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A systematic review and meta-analyses shows the prevalent and incidence of age-related macular degeneration in Europe

A systematic review and meta-analysis on age-related macular degeneration in Europe has reported an increasing prevalent and incident data until 2050. The analysis of the research indicates that there will be considerable healthcare supports required over the European healthcare systems over the coming decade. The research, funded by the European Society of Retina Specialists (EURETINA) and performed at the Department of Ophthalmology, University of Bonn, Germany, showed that 67 million people in the EU are currently affected, due to population ageing, expecting to increase by 15% of the population until 2050. Commenting on the study, published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology (November 11th, 2019), researchers stated that, “monitoring and treatment of people with advanced disease stages will require additional healthcare resources and thorough healthcare planning in the years and decades to come”.


Results from the research reported twenty-two prevalence studies and four incidence studies, comprising data of 55,323 European individuals with a mean age range of 60–81 years. Prevalence refers to the total number of individuals in a population who have the disease at a specific period of time, while incidence refers the number of individuals who develop the specific disease during a particular time period. In essence, the prevalence of the study describes the pool of disease in the population, while incidence describes the input flow of new cases into the pool (less deaths/recovery reflecting the output flow from the pool). In this research, the pooled prevalence estimate of early or intermediate AMD and any late AMD in those 60 years and older was 25.3% and 2.4%, respectively. In the meta-analysis of incidence, the pooled annual incidence of any late AMD was 1.4 per 1,000 individuals. In particular, for early and intermediate AMD, the pooled prevalence estimate ranged from 9.3% in those ≤64 years to 26.9%  in those 75+, with a prevalence of 25.3% in all age groups combined. And in addition, for any late AMD, pooled prevalence ranged from 0.3% to 6.4%, with a prevalence of 2.4% in all age groups combined. Prevalence of nAMD was 1.4 times higher than for GA (1.4% vs 1.0%). Moreover, for the year 2050, the study estimated more than 77 million individuals in the EU to be affected by any AMD, as compared with 67 million in the year 2015. The largest increase of 15% was expected in individuals aged 75 years and older (from 50 to 57.6 million people) due to population ageing. For any late AMD, the increase is estimated at 20% from 10 to 12 million people until 2050. Incident late AMD was estimated to increase from 400,000 Europeans per year today, to 700,000 people per year in 2050, with the highest number of incident cases expected in Germany (120,000 in 2015 to 180,000 in 2050).


In summary, the prevalence and incidence of AMD has found a steadily increase in older Europeans, with a projected increase by 15% in prevalence and 75% in incidence until 2050. In a previous systematic review and meta-analysis, the global prevalence of any type of AMD has been reported to be 8.7%. However, the pooled prevalence rates for people of European ancestry and the geographical European region were higher (12.3% and 18.3%, respectively) compared with the global estimate. This underscores the need for regional data and analyses. The current report data now provides accurate information pooled on European estimates of AMD incidence, clearly providing a significant contribution on timely research.