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Elderly woman looking at a dot on a sheet while covering one eye in a macular degeneration test.
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City BMJ Open paper named as one of most read for December

Review looks into the effect of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) on visual function and quality of life

by George Wigmore (Senior Communications Officer)

A paper published in BMJ Open by researchers from the Division of Optometry and Visual Science has been named as the 10th most read article for Dec 2016.

The paper by Deanna Taylor and colleagues, which is one of over 250 published each month by the journal, looks into the effect of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) on visual function and quality of life in patients living with the condition.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common cause of visual impairment in the developed world and affects over half a million people in the UK. It affects the central part of people’s vision, which is used for detailed tasks such as reading and recognising faces.

‘Wet’ AMD, which is often treated with injections to the eye, tends to cause sudden vision loss. Conversely, ‘dry’ AMD, which affects around 90% of people with AMD, causes gradual loss of vision. No treatments are currently available for dry AMD although several potential therapies are currently being investigated.

In particular the City study systematically reviewed the literature on how AMD affects ability to do visual tasks that are part of daily life. The most recent large scale systematic reviews in this field were published over ten years ago, and the recent City one is the first to integrate both patient-reported and performance-based outcomes.

Deanna Taylor, lead author of the study and a PhD student in the Crabb Lab in the Division of Optometry and Visual Science at City, University of London, said:

Our review identifies a number of areas of life which may be affected by AMD including mobility, face recognition, perception of scenes, computer use, food preparation, shopping, cleaning, watching television, driving and reading.

Only 41% of studies identified in our systematic review report the type of AMD under investigation, and only 26% report disease duration. This is noteworthy because research shows that there are functional differences between the types of AMD, and that psychological and functional effects can change over the time course of the disease.

More research acknowledging this is needed. In addition, rather than relying solely on traditional clinical measures of vision such as changes on ‘letter charts’, clinical management of patients and clinical trials should aim to reflect these findings by focussing on ‘real-world’ measures of visual function.

Cathy Yelf, Chief Executive of the Macular Society said:

This is a really valuable review, which further demonstrates the negative impact AMD has on people’s lives. We hope it will go some way to help shape future research and improve patient care.

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Definition
Age-related macular degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a painless eye condition that cause the loss of central vision, usually in both eyes.

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