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Understanding neovascular age-related macular degeneration

Published 19 August 2019 

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a disease that impacts the central area of the retina in the eye, called the macula. The retina sends information to the brain to enable sight, with the macula enabling sharp, central vision. AMD is a leading cause of blindness in people age 60 and over.1

Many people with AMD do not immediately recognise the symptoms, mistaking it for a normal sign of ageing. This leads to more severe conditions such as neovascular AMD (nAMD) and geographic atrophy .2,3

In nAMD, new and abnormal blood vessels grow uncontrollably under the macula, causing swelling, bleeding and/or fibrosis.4

Global burden

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nAMD affects 17 million people worldwide.1,5

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The number of people with AMD globally is expected to reach 196 million by 2020 and increase to 288 million by 2040.1

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nAMD is the leading cause of vision loss in people over the age of 60.1,5

Risk factors6,7,8

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Age

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Obesity

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Genetics
Family history of AMD

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Gender
Women are at a higher risk

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Race
More common among Caucasians

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Smoking
Smokers are 2-5 times more likely to be impacted

Signs and symptoms5,9

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Sudden blurred vision

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Difficulty seeing at distance or doing detailed work

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Blind spots developing in the line of sight

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Difficulty distinguishing between colours

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Edges and straight lines appearing wavy

Impact of neovascular age-related macular degeneration

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Impaired vision can impact:8

  • The ability to carry out everyday tasks
  • The ability to work
  • The ability to lead an active social life
  • Quality of life, with increased social isolation, depression and anxiety disorders
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nAMD may impact the ability to see or recognise faces, read and write, drive or watch TV.5

Annual eye test

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Getting an annual eye test is the best way to detect any changes in vision. A dilated retinal examination will help to diagnose any retinal diseases. If you’d like more information on nAMD or other retinal diseases, talk to your optician or visit www.retina-international.org/.

References

  1. Bright Focus Foundation. Age-Related Macular Degeneration: Facts & Figures. [Internet; cited May 2019]. Available from: https://www.brightfocus.org/macular/article/age-related-macular-facts-figures.
  2. NHS Choices. Macular Degeneration. [Internet; cited May 2019] Available from: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Macular-degeneration/Pages/Introduction.aspx.
  3. Sacconi R, Corbelli E, Querques L, Bandello F, Querques G. A Review of Current and Future Management of Geographic Atrophy. Ophthalmology and Therapy. 2017; 6:69-77.
  4. Kellogg Eye Center. AMD. [Internet; cited May 2019]. Available from: http://www.kellogg.umich.edu/patientcare/conditions/amd.html.
  5. Pennington KL, DeAngelis MM. Epidemiology of age-related macular degeneration (AMD): associations with cardiovascular disease phenotypes and lipid factors. Eye and Vision. 2016; 3:34.
  6. World Health Organization. Priority eye diseases: Age-related macular degeneration. [Internet; cited May 2019] Available from: http://www.who.int/blindness/causes/priority/en/index7.html.
  7. National Eye Institute. Facts About Age-Related Macular Degeneration. [Internet; cited May 2019]. Available from: https://nei.nih.gov/health/maculardegen/armd_facts.
  8. Bright Focus Foundation. Macular Degeneration Prevention and Risk Factors. [Internet; cited May 2019]. Available from: http://www.brightfocus.org/macular/prevention-and-risk-factors.
  9. Bright Focus Foundation. Macular Degeneration Essential Facts. [Internet; cited May 2019]. Available from: http://www.brightfocus.org/macular/news/macular-essential-facts#.
  10. Park SJ, Ahn S, Woo SJ, et al. Extent of Exacerbation of Chronic Health Conditions by Visual Impairment in Terms of Health-Related Quality of Life. JAMA Ophthalmol. 2015; 133:1267-1275.

Tags: Science, Ophthalmology