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Special Communication
January 19, 2017

The Potential Importance of Detection of Neovascular Age-Related Macular Degeneration When Visual Acuity Is Relatively Good

Author Affiliations
  • 1Mid Atlantic Retina, Wills Eye Hospital, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • 2Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida
  • 3Retina Consultants of Houston, Houston, Texas
  • 4Retina-Vitreous Associates Medical Group, Beverly Hills, California
  • 5Ophthalmic Consultants of Boston, Boston, Massachusetts
JAMA Ophthalmol. Published online January 19, 2017. doi:10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2016.5314

The advent of anti–vascular endothelial growth factor treatment has changed the prognosis for patients with neovascular age-related macular degeneration (nvAMD). The ability to stabilize or improve vision with these treatments is a major step in enabling patients to continue to function at the highest possible level. Many studies have demonstrated that the better the visual acuity (VA) is at the time of treatment initiation, the higher the likelihood that VA will be better during at least the following 2 years; as such, detection of nvAMD when VA is relatively good is important. Data on the VA of patients with intermediate AMD and VA at the time of nvAMD diagnosis suggest that patients are typically losing an average of 3 to 5 lines of vision and possibly more between the time that intermediate AMD progresses to nvAMD and the diagnosis of nvAMD is made. The average patient may have nvAMD for 6 to 12 months before diagnosis and treatment initiation. Current efforts in management of nvAMD are primarily aimed at optimizing anti–vascular endothelial growth factor treatments that have the potential to improve VA outcomes by a magnitude of letters. Additional tools or other efforts to identify patients with nvAMD before substantial vision loss has occurred may reduce the amount of visual loss sustained with anti–vascular endothelial growth factor therapy, and have the potential to improve VA outcomes substantially.