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Sharp Rise in Macular Degeneration Cases Expected

New therapies will help offset the burden on health care

TUESDAY, April 14 (HealthDay News) -- Although the prevalence of age-related macular degeneration is set to significantly increase by 2050, the advent of new treatments will help to mitigate the health care burden, according to a report published in the April issue of the Archives of Ophthalmology.

David B. Rein, Ph.D., of the Research Triangle Institute in Research Triangle Park, N.C., and colleagues created a simulation model for cases of early age-related macular degeneration, choroidal neovascularization, geographical atrophy and age-related macular degeneration-attributable visual impairment and blindness. They looked at case prevalence based on five different treatment scenarios.

Regardless of the treatment scenario, early age-related macular degeneration cases increased to 17.8 million in 2050, versus 9.1 million in 2010, the researchers report. When cases were not treated, the number of cases with visual impairment and blindness went from 620,000 in 2010 to 1.6 million in 2050, the investigators found, but they note that the use of antioxidant vitamin therapies substantially reduced the number of cases that degenerated to visual impairment and blindness.

"Public prevention efforts should focus on expanding the use of antioxidant vitamins in people with early age-related macular degeneration and ensuring that these patients use the correct dosage," the authors write. "Expanded use of anti-vascular endothelial growth factor therapies is also highly likely to reduce morbidity from choroidal neovascularization, although its cost-effectiveness remains uncertain."

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