Age related macular degeneration [AMD] is one of the most costliest health conditions that people face in the world today. As people get older, the chances of AMD appearing continue to increase and there is a direct correlation to the cost of care when compared to age. As Baby Boomers continue to age into the 60+ senior demographic, there will be a large spike in the number of cases that are seen and treated in the coming decades.
Facts About AMD
1. 11 million. That’s the number of people in the US who are believed to have some form of AMD right now. By 2050, that figure is expected to double.
2. About 200,000 new cases of wet AMD are diagnosed each year in North America.
3. AMD typically affects people initially in one eye, with a likelihood of it occurring in the second eye over time.
4. While it usually does not lead to total blindness, AMD may cause foggy or blurred central vision and varying degrees of usable peripheral vision.
5. The risk of getting advanced age-related macular degeneration increases from 2% for those ages 50-59 to nearly 30% for those over the age of 75.
6. The number of people with AMD is about the same number of people who have an invasive cancer.
7. 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, including $255 billion in direct care costs.
8. $98 billion is spent in the United States, Cuba, and Canada every year to deal with AMD
9. Wet macular degeneration accounts for approximately 10% of cases, but results in 90 percent of legal blindness.
10. AMD is one of the leading causes of vision loss in the US in the 60+ age demographic.
11. By the age of 80, Caucasians have a 6x higher chance of developing AMD than any other racial demographic.
12. Before the age of 70, Caucasians are the least likely to develop AMD as a racial demographic.
13. 1.3 million people above the age of 80 are expected to develop AMD in the US. At the age of 50, just 78,000 people are expected to develop the disease.
14. Women [65%] are more likely than men [35%] to develop age related macular degeneration.
15. About 5% of the people who are blind in the world today have had their blindness occur because of AMD. It has a blindness prevalence rate of 8.7% when the disease reaches an outcome in each patient.
16. In a recent study, past smokers and current smokers developed wet AMD an average of 4.9 years and 7.7 years earlier than patients with wet AMD who were lifelong nonsmokers.
17. People with certain genetic risk factors for macular degeneration developed the disease 2.8 to 12.2 years earlier.
18. Europeans are 2x more likely to develop AMD when compared to Asians.
When AMD reaches the advanced stages, it will cause irreversible blindness. Treatments for when it is first noticed can help to save some eyesight, but there is almost always some level of permanent visual impairment involved with an age related macular degeneration diagnosis. There are two forms, wet and dry, that may develop. Considering that age is the dominant risk factor for AMD development, there aren’t many proactive preventions available for this terrible disease.
What Can Be Done About AMD?
Although age is the primary risk factor for age related macular degeneration, recent research shows that there are other risk factors involved as well. Smoking especially seems to play a role in the early development of AMD. Would smokers who develop AMD up to 12 years sooner than nonsmokers still develop the eye disease? That isn’t known. What is known is that those who smoke and develop AMD do so at younger ages.
This means the best thing to do right now to lower the risks of AMD developing is to have a healthy lifestyle. Quit smoking now if you’re already smoking. Don’t start smoking. Avoid tobacco products. Avoid alcohol and other drugs. It is not known if the stimulation effect of nicotine helps to advance AMD development, so limiting caffeine may also be wise. Eat the right portions of vegetables, fruits, and proteins. That may not stop the disease, but it could help someone reach their 80s before having to deal with it.