Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a progressive eye disease that affects the retina, the area of the eye responsible for central vision and sharpness. AMD is the most common cause of irreversible vision loss among the elderly, specifically those ages 50 years and older. In the nine major pharmaceutical markets (9MM: US, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, UK, Japan, Australia, and China), GlobalData epidemiologists found that less than half of AMD cases were diagnosed in 2019, with Japan and China experiencing the most undiagnosed cases due to the large number of AMD cases in these markets (as shown in Figure 1).
Primary eye care providers are often the first line of defense in detecting eye disease. However, a 2017 study published in JAMA Ophthalmology by Neely and colleagues revealed that a large number of AMD cases go undetected and undiagnosed in the primary eye care setting. The study examined elderly patients without diagnosed eye conditions, and found that 320 of 1,288 eyes had AMD. The results of this study are concerning, indicating that under-diagnosis of AMD can easily occur in the primary care setting and is likely driving the gap between diagnosed and undiagnosed cases.
Accurate and timely identification of AMD cases in the primary eye care setting is critical for improving patient outcomes. Future efforts should prioritise addressing gaps in physician awareness and providing better training opportunities on how to properly assess and diagnose AMD.