Understanding neovascular age-related macular degeneration

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 over the age of 60.1,2

Many people with AMD do not immediately recognise the symptoms, mistaking them for normal signs of ageing. This leads to more severe conditions such as neovascular AMD (nAMD) and geographic atrophy.3,4

In nAMD, new and abnormal blood vessels grow uncontrollably under the macula, causing swelling, bleeding and/or fibrosis.5

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Global burden

nAMD affects 20 million people worldwide.1,6

The number of people with AMD globally is expected to reach 288 million by 2040.2

nAMD is the leading cause of vision loss in people over the age of 60.2

Risk factors⁷

Age

Obesity


Genetics

Family history of AMD

Gender

Women are at a higher risk

Race

More common among Caucasians

Smoking

Smokers are 2-5 times more likely to be impacted

Signs and symptoms⁸

Blurred vision

Difficulty seeing at distance or doing detailed work

Blind spots developing in the line of sight

Difficulty distinguishing between colours

Edges and straight lines appearing wavy

Impact of neovascular age-related macular degeneration

Impaired vision can impact:9,10,11

  • 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

nAMD may impact the ability to see or recognise faces, read, drive or watch TV.1,9

Annual eye test

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 October 2021]. Available from: https://www.brightfocus.org/macular/article/age-related-macular-facts-figures .

  2. Wong WL, et al. Global prevalence of age-related macular degeneration and disease burden projection for 2020 and 2040: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Lancet Glob Health. 2014;2:106–16.

  3. NHS Choices. Macular Degeneration. [Internet; cited October 2021] Available from: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Macular-degeneration/Pages/Introduction.aspx .

  4. 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.

  5. Little K, et al. Myofibroblasts in macular fibrosis secondary to neovascular age-related macular degeneration-the potential sources and molecular cues for their recruitment and activation. EBioMedicine. 2018;38:283-91.

  6. Connolly E, et al. Prevalence of age-related macular degeneration associated genetic risk factors and 4-year progression data in the Irish population. Br J Ophthalmol. 2018;102:1691–5.

  7. Bright Focus Foundation. Macular Degeneration Prevention and Risk Factors. [Internet; cited October 2021]. Available from: http://www.brightfocus.org/macular/prevention-and-risk-factors.

  8. Bright Focus Foundation. Macular Degeneration Essential Facts. [Internet; cited October 2021]. Available from: http://www.brightfocus.org/macular/news/macular-essential-facts# .

  9. 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.

  10. Taylor DR, et al. How does age-related macular degeneration affect real-world visual ability and quality of life? A systematic review. BMJ Open. 2016;6:e011504. doi:10.1136/bmj.

  11. Garcia GA, et al. Profound vision loss impairs psychological well-being in young and middle-aged individuals. Clin Ophthalmol. 2017;11:417–27.