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22-05-2012 | General practice | Article

AMD prevalence ‘will increase dramatically’


Free abstract

MedWire News: The number of people with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in Scandinavia will increase by 75% between 2012 and 2040, say researchers.

Their projection, which is based on current epidemiologic data together with demographic trends in the Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish populations, will result in a dramatic increase in demand for ophthalmic health services.

AMD is a leading cause of visual impairment and is indirectly linked to greater use of home care services, reduced quality of life, and comorbidities such as hip fracture and depression. There is no cure but frequent intravitreal injections can slow disease progression. However, these place a high burden on the healthcare system.

To help with future public health planning, Haakon Lindekleiv (University of Tromsø, Norway) and co-authors projected the burden of AMD in Scandinavia between 2012 and 2040.

They obtained current prevalence data on late AMD from two sources: the European Eye Study (a multicenter, population-based study of 5040 participants aged ≥65 years from seven European countries) and the Eye Diseases Prevalence Research Group (a meta-analysis of seven population-based studies).

Current prevalence of late AMD in Scandinavian people aged over 65 years was estimated at 5.2% or 187,000 persons: 47,000 in Denmark, 43,000 in Norway, and 97,000 in Sweden, report Lindekleiv et al in Acta Ophthalmologica.

The cause of AMD was choroidal neovascularization in around 70% of cases and geographic atrophy in around 56% of cases, they add, noting that both etiologies may be present in a single person.

Meanwhile, demographic trends indicate that the number of people aged 65 years and over in Scandinavia will increase by 51%, from 3.6 million in 2012 to 5.4 million in 2040. The largest projected increase will be in those aged 80 years and over.

Based on these figures, and assuming a constant prevalence rate, the number of Scandinavian people aged 65 years and over with late AMD will increase by 75%, from 187,000 in 2012 to 328,000 in 2040, the researchers state.

By 2040, a total of 228,000 people will have neovascular AMD and 183,000 will have geographic atrophic AMD in either eye, they note.

"The number of patients with late AMD in Scandinavia is expected to increase substantially over the next 3 decades because of an aging population," Lindekleiv et al conclude. "This will place a high burden on health care services."

By Joanna Lyford

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