Macular Degeneration Rates On the Decline In the US

Declining Rates | Increasing Rates

Declining Rates

A study of over 5,000 American from various racial and ethnic backgrounds shows that across the board, an estimated 6.5% of Americans are likely to develop macular degeneration (AMD).

Unlike glaucoma, which affects a disproportionately high number of African Americans, macular degeneration is shown to be much more common in white Americans than it is in blacks.

The results of this 2005-2008 study show that fewer people are developing macular degeneration than back in the period between 1988 and 1994 when researchers reported a prevalence rate of the disease of 9.4%.  This drop in macular degeneration rates (down to 6.5%) could be due to methodological differences, but study authors do state that their findings do support the assertion that incidences of AMD are on the decline.

Source: Archives of Ophthalmology,Vol. 129, No. 1

Increasing Rates

However, another study, in 2009, concluded quite the opposite.

Research statisticians indicate that macular degeneration   will increase dramatically by 2050, due to the aging of the US population but that this increase may be offset by new treatments.

A significant preventative therapy named in this study is the use of antioxidant vitamins to slow the progression of AMD from early to late stages.  Other treatments reviewed include laser and photodynamic therapies and anti-VEGF injections.

Scientists from the Research Triangle Institute International in North Carolina simulated cases of early and advanced macular degeneration, geographic atrophy (GA), and AMD-attributable visual impairment and blindness with 5 universal treatment scenarios:

  1. no treatment;
  2. focal laser and photodynamic therapy for advanced AMD (choroidal neovascularization)
  3. vitamin prophylaxis at early-AMD incidence with focal laser & photodynamic for later;
  4. no vitamin prophylaxis followed by focal laser treatment for extra and juxtafoveal advanced AMD and anti-vascular endothelial growth factor treatment; and
  5. vitamin prophylaxis at early-AMD incidence followed by treatment, as in 4 for advanced stage AMD.

From the results of this analysis, the researchers predicted that cases of early AMD will increase from 9.1 million in 2010 to 17.8 million in 2050 across all scenarios, but that existing medical therapies have the potential to reduce the visual impairment and blindness attributable to AMD by as much as 35 percent, translating to 565,000 fewer cases of visual impairment and blindness in 2050.

Editor’s Note:  We attribute a good part of this increase to the faster pace of life with more stress and poorer quality food (fast food, too much sugar, too many unknown toxins).