The leading cause of irreversible blindness and severe visual impairment – age-related macular degeneration (AMD) – is expected to affect 77 million Europeans by 2050.
Researchers, funded by the European Society of Retina Specialists, warned that this increase in the number of age-related macular degeneration cases would require additional health care resources and careful planning for decades to come especially since most cases will involve 70 year olds. and above.
Age-related macular degeneration occurs when the small central portion of the retina, the photosensitive tissue located at the back of the eye, deteriorates with age. Once advanced, it can be treated, but not cured.
The calculations were published online in the British Journal of Ophthalmology.
Calculation of the cost of AMD
To estimate accurately the likely demands for health services related to age-related macular degeneration, the researchers calculated the number of existing cases and new cases in the Member States of the European Union until 2050.
To do this, they pooled data from 22 existing disease studies involving 55,323 older adults on average between 60 and 81 years of age and four incidence studies (new cases) conducted across Europe – showing that the number of existing cases is expected to increase. by 15%, while the number of new cases is expected to increase by 75% by 2050.
The estimated projections show that by 2050, one in four European Union adults will be diagnosed with AMD, ranging from just under one in ten of those under 65 years of age to one year old. just under 27% of the over 75s.
To calculate the numbers of new AMD cases, the researchers grouped data from 7,223 study participants among the four incidence studies, thus calculating an annual rate of 1.4 new cases of advanced AMD. per 1,000 people aged 50 and over, with comparable figures of 0.5 / 1000 for the under 70s, reaching 6.7 / 1000 for the over 70s.
On the basis of these figures, they estimate that 77 million people in the EU will have AMD by 2050, compared to 67 million in 2015, and that the proportion of people with advanced AMD is expected to increase by 20%, from 10 to 12 million people. until 2050.
The researchers warned that: "This will require a considerable number of health services and an additional allocation of resources, which should already be taken into account today in all European health systems".