Undiagnosed Macular Degeneration Appears Common

Nearly one-fourth of eyes deemed normal in primary care eye exam found to have AMD

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THURSDAY, April 27, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Approximately one-fourth of eyes deemed to be normal based on eye examination by primary eye care physicians have age-related macular degeneration (AMD) determined by fundus photography and trained raters, according to a study published online April 27 in JAMA Ophthalmology.

David C. Neely, M.D., from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and colleagues examined the prevalence of eyes with AMD in 644 patients seen in 31 primary eye care clinics (May 1, 2009, through Dec. 31, 2011). The patients had normal macular health per their medical records.

The researchers found that 75.2 percent of eyes had no AMD, in agreement with their medical records. However, 24.8 percent had AMD despite no diagnosis of AMD in the medical record. Older patient age (odds ratio [OR], 1.06), male sex (age-adjusted OR, 1.39), and less than a high school education (age-adjusted OR, 2.4) were associated with undiagnosed AMD. The prevalence of undiagnosed AMD did not differ significantly between ophthalmologists and optometrists.

"Improved AMD detection strategies may be needed in primary eye care as more effective treatment strategies for early AMD become available in the coming years," conclude the authors.

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