Incidence of newly registered blindness from age-related macular degeneration in Australia over a 21-year period: 1996-2016

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Purpose: Report the age-standardized annual incidence of blindness registration due to age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in Australia in patients aged 50 years and older. Frequencies of photodynamic therapy (PDT) and intravitreal therapy (IVT) were examined.

Design: Retrospective observational study.

Setting: Registry of the Association for the Blind of Western Australia with best-corrected visual acuity worse than 20/200 in the better-seeing eye.

Participants: Registering as blind aged 50 years or over.

Measures: Annual age-standardized incidence of blindness over 3 time periods: 1996-2001 (pre-PDT), 2002-2007 (PDT era) and 2008-2016 (IVT era). The rates of PDT and IVT usage were assessed.

Results: Age-standardized annual incidence of blindness rose during the PDT era, reaching 72.5 cases per 100,000 person-years in 2004. The incidence declined from 2007 onwards, reaching 8.2 cases per 100,000 person-years in 2016 (IVT era). The age at AMD blindness registration increased from 82.7 to 84.9 and 83.7 to 86.0 years from the PDT era to the IVT era in both male and females (P < 0.001) respectively. Over the same time period, PDT usage increased in 2002 and declined in 2006, whereas IVT usage increased from 2009 by 3745 per year.

Conclusion: The increase in new blindness registrations due to AMD coincided with public funding of verteporfin for PDT, whereas the subsequent decline occurred when bevacizumab was used off-label and ranibizumab and aflibercept were publicly funded. An understanding of the effect of retinal therapy on public health measures may inform improvements in the allocation of limited resources.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)442-449
Number of pages8
JournalAsia-Pacific journal of ophthalmology (Philadelphia, Pa.)
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2021


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