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Research on AMD patients’ productivity and participation in the labour market.

Researchers at Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, Western University, Ontario, Canada, reported a meta-analysis among AMD patients finding reduced incomes and reduced employment following diagnosis.  The study evaluated outcome measures such as lost wages due to reduced salaries, or missed work, and increased unemployment rate.  These results show that there may be significant impacts on patients’ well-being and mental-health for the new AMD patient and several supports and counselling outreach skills will be valuable to navigate any changes, for both patient and family members.  The researchers commented that, “understanding the effects of AMD on both patients and society is essential. While the impact on visual function has been extensively studied, the consequences of AMD-related vision loss and blindness extend beyond just vision issues. Previous research has indicated that individuals with AMD experience a significant decline in their quality of life, increased utilization of healthcare resources, and incur greater economic costs in comparison to matched controls.”

In this current study, 679 records were identified, following which 5 studies were used for the meta-analysis, assessed by qualitative and quantitative review of the articles. Most of the studies for the analysis comprised significant large sample sizes, ranging from 103 to 2,823,352 participants.  The available data indicated that most participants were elderly, with a mean age ranging from 66.1 to 81.6 years. Mean “wages lost” due to a reduced salary (potentially a demotion at work, poor performance, lack of skills, fewer responsibilities, less time spent at work) ranged from $3,974 USD to $9,765 USD per annum. Mean wages lost due to unemployment ranged from $22,314 USD to $58,886 USD a year.  In brief, patients with AMD experience impaired work productivity as demonstrated by the lost income and significantly higher rates of unemployment, a rate attributed to AMD ranging from 5.5% to 77.0%.

On reviewing the data, the researchers found that it was “crucial to understand how decreased visual acuity and quality of life caused by AMD directly relates to decreased work productivity and unemployment”. Patients with AMD often experience a decline in central vision while retaining peripheral vision. The loss of central vision caused by AMD significantly hinders an individual’s ability to carry out tasks such as reading, writing, driving, using digital devices, and recognizing faces.  According to the study, “it has been shown that physicians often underestimate the effects of AMD on productivity, income, and unemployment.”  In conclusion, and in particular with regards to future healthcare planning, the clinicians commented that, “it is important to be conscientious of how AMD can impair a patient’s work productivity and the entailing economic consequences, especially considering the aging population, and shifting labour market.”