Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology
April 2018

Clinical and social characteristics associated with reduced visual acuity at presentation in Australian patients with neovascular age-related macular degeneration: a prospective study from a long-term data set.

Vuong Nguyen, Vincent Daien, Robyn H Guymer, Ian L McAllister, Nigel Morlet, Daniel Barthelmes, Mark C Gillies


Importance: Identifying variables that influence presenting visual acuity (VA) in patients with neovascular age-related macular degeneration (nAMD) is important because it is a strong predictor of long-term outcomes.

Background: To assess the clinical and social characteristics associated with low presenting VA in nAMD patients.

Design: The present study is a cross-sectional analysis from a prospective, observational database.

Participants: We identified 3242 treatment-naïve patients from 54 Australian practices in the Fight Retinal Blindness! registry.

Methods: Age, gender, ethnicity and VA were recorded at the baseline visit. Socio-economic status was determined using the Australian Bureau of Statistics socio-economic indexes for areas.

Main outcome measures: Association between clinical and socio-economic characteristics with presenting VA was identified.

Results: Poor VA (≤35 letters) in the presenting eye was associated with older age (adjusted odds ratio [AOR]: 1.33 for patients aged ≥80 years vs. <80 years [95% confidence interval, CI: 1.04, 1.71]), treatment at a public practice (AOR: 1.91 for public vs. private practices [95% CI: 1.46, 2.50]) and intermediate (36-69 letters) VA in the fellow eye (AOR: 0.67 [95% CI: 0.47, 0.95] and 0.64 [95% CI: 0.48, 0.85] for poor [≤35 letters] and good [≥70 letters] VA vs. intermediate VA in the fellow eye). Gender, ethnicity and socio-economic status were not independently associated with VA at presentation. Conclusions and relevance: Poor presenting vision is detrimental to the long-term outcomes of nAMD. Poor presentation of nAMD in Australia may not be related to socio-economic circumstances, but due to systems of care. Further research is warranted to determine why patients at public practices present with worse vision compared with private practices in Australia.