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Original Investigation
October 12, 2017

Prevalence of Age-Related Macular Degeneration in AustraliaThe Australian National Eye Health Survey

Author Affiliations
  • 1Centre for Eye Research Australia, Royal Victorian Eye & Ear Hospital, Melbourne, Australia
  • 2Department of Surgery, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
  • 3Indigenous Eye Health Unit, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
JAMA Ophthalmol. Published online October 12, 2017. doi:10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2017.4182
Key Points

Question  What is the prevalence of age-related macular degeneration in Australian adults?

Findings  In this population-based national sample of 3098 nonindigenous and 1738 indigenous Australian adults, the prevalence of late age-related macular degeneration was 0.96% in nonindigenous and 0.17% in indigenous Australians. Age-related macular degeneration was attributed as the main cause of vision loss in 11.1% of nonindigenous and 1.1% of indigenous Australians.

Meaning  Age-related macular degeneration remains 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 age-related macular degeneration in Australia.

Abstract

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.

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