Prevalence of age-related macular degeneration in Australia: The Australian National Eye Health Survey

Stuart Keel, Jing Xie, Joshua Foreman, Peter Van Wijngaarden, Hugh R. Taylor, Mohamed Dirani

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11 Citations (Scopus)


IMPORTANCE: Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of irreversible blindness among the elderly population globally. Currently, knowledge of the epidemiology of AMD in Australia remains scarce because of a paucity of recent population-based data. OBJECTIVE: To examine the prevalence of AMD in Australia. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: In this population-based, cross-sectional survey performed from March 11, 2015, to April 18, 2016, a sample of 3098 nonindigenous Australians 50 years and older and 1738 indigenous Australians 40 years and older from 30 geographic areas across Australia were examined. MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: Any AMD, early AMD, intermediate AMD, and late AMD graded according to the Beckman clinical classification system. RESULTS: A total of 4836 individuals were examined, including 3098 nonindigenous Australian (64.1%; 58.9% female vs 41.1% male; age range, 40-92 years; mean [SD] age, 55.0 [10.0] years) and 1738 indigenous Australians (35.9%; 53.6% female vs 46.4% male; age range, 50-98 years; mean [SD] age, 66.6 [9.7] years). A total of 4589 (94.9%, 2946 nonindigenous and 1643 indigenous) participants had retinal photographs in at least 1 eye that were gradable for AMD. The weighted prevalence of early AMD was 14.8% (95% CI, 11.7%-18.6%) and of intermediate AMD was 10.5% (95% CI, 8.3%-13.1%) among nonindigenous Australians. In indigenous Australians, the weighted prevalence of early AMD was 13.8% (95% CI, 9.7%-19.3%) and of intermediate AMD was 5.7% (96% CI, 4.7%-7.0%). Late AMD was found in 0.96% (95% CI, 0.59%-1.55%) of nonindigenous participants (atrophic, 0.72%; neovascular, 0.24%). The prevalence of late AMD increased to 6.7% in participants 80 years or older and was higher in men (1.4% vs 0.61%, P = .02). Only 3 (0.17% [95% CI, 0.04%-0.63%]) indigenous participants had late (atrophic) AMD. Age-related macular degeneration was attributed as the main cause of vision loss (<6/12 in the better eye) in 23 of 208 nonindigenous Australians (11.1%) and 2 of 183 indigenous Australians (1.1%). CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: In line with data from other white populations, AMD is a prominent cause of vision loss in the nonindigenous Australian population. An increased provision of low vision rehabilitation services may be required to cope with the projected increase in AMD in Australia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1242-1249
Number of pages8
JournalJAMA Ophthalmology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2017
Externally publishedYes

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