Macular degeneration is a leading cause of vision loss in Americans 60 years of age and older.i
Advanced age-related macular degeneration is a leading cause of irreversible blindness and visual impairment in the world.iiAs many as 11 million people in the United States have some form of age-related macular degeneration. This number is expected to double to nearly 22 million by 2050.iv The number of people living with macular degeneration is expected to reach 196 million worldwide by 2020 and increase to 288 million by 2040.viii
Age is a prominent risk factor for age-related macular degeneration. The risk of getting advanced age-related macular degeneration increase from 2% for those ages 50- 59, to nearly 30% for those over the age of 75.v
Estimates of the global cost of visual impairment due to age- related macular degeneration is $343 billion, including $255 billion in direct health care costs.
Estimates of the direct health care costs of visual impairment due to age-related macular degeneration in the US, Canada, and Cuba (WHO sub-region AMR-A), collectively, is approximately $98 billion.
The global cost of vision loss due to all causes is estimated to be nearly $3 trillion dollars for the 733 million people living with low vision and blindness worldwide. In North America alone, the direct cost for vision loss due to all causes was $512.8 billion, and the indirect costs were $179 billion.vi
The dry form of macular degeneration, in which the light sensitive cells of the macula slowly break down, is the most common type, accounting for 90 percent of diagnosed cases. Wet macular degeneration accounts for approximately 10 percent of cases, but results in 90 percent of legal blindness. It is considered advanced macular degeneration (there is no early or intermediate stage of wet macular degeneration). Wet macular degeneration is always preceded by the dry form of the disease.vii
It is possible for dry macular degeneration to advance and cause loss of vision without turning into the wet form of the disease; however, it is also possible for early-stage dry age- related macular degeneration to suddenly change into the wet form.
i NEI, “Facts About Age-Related Macular Degeneration” http://www.nei.nih.gov/health/maculardegen/armd_facts.asp
ii VISION 2020 Global Initiative for the Elimination of Avoidable Blindness: Action plan 2006-2011. World Health Organization, 2007
World Health Organization report called: “Global data on visual impairment 2010” (WHO/NMH/PBD/12.01) http://www.who.int/blindness/GLOBALDATAFINALforweb.pdf
iv “Forecasting Age-Related Macular Degeneration Through the Year 2050 — The Potential Impact of New Treatments”. David B. Rein, PhD; John S. Wittenborn, BS; Xinzhi Zhang, MD, PhD; Amanda A. Honeycutt, PhD; Sarah B. Lesesne, BS; Jinan Saaddine, MD, MPH; for the Vision Health Cost-Effectiveness Study Group. Archives of Ophthalmology. 127(4):533-540. April 2009. http://archopht.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=422785
v National Institutes of Health, National Eye Institute. Prevalence of Blindness** Data--Data Tables, Summary of Eye Disease Prevalence Data: “Prevalence of Cataract, Age-Related Macular Degeneration, and Open-Angle Glaucoma Among Adults 40 Years and Older in the United States”
- Archives of Ophthalmology, Volume 122, April 2004;
vi Access Economics, prepared for AMD Alliance International, The Global Economic Cost of Visual Impairment, March 2010 (all costs are reported in 2008 US dollars) March 16, 2010.
vii Original scientific paper: Ferris, F. L. et al. Arch Ophthalmol 1984;102:1640–1642. http://archopht.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=635292 EyeSmart, eye health information from the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
viii "Global prevalence of age-related macular degeneration and disease burden projection for 2020 and 2040: a systematic review and meta-analysis". Wan Ling Wong, Xinyi Su, Xiang Li, Chui Ming G Cheung, Ronald Klein, Ching-Yu Chen, Tien Yin Wong. The Lancet. Volume 2, No. 2, e106–e116, February 2014.
** Blindness as defined by the U.S. definition is the best-corrected visual acuity of 6/60 or worse (=20/200) in the better-seeing eye; low vision is defined as the best-corrected visual acuity less than 6/12 (<20/40) in the better-seeing eye (excluding those who were categorized as being blind by the U.S. definition.)