Wet macular degeneration is becoming a global problem for health care systems. With approximately 35,000 cases of wet macular degeneration being diagnosed each year in Germany. The economic impact of this eye disease on both the health systems and individual patients can be dramatic. German researchers conducted a study to determine the economic burden on patients with wet macular degeneration to assess both the humanistic and economic burden of wet macular degeneration on the German population.
Approximately 35,000 cases of wet macular degeneration occur annually in Germany. Wet macular degeneration is responsible for approximately 90 percent of the vision loss associated with this eye disease. It was important for the study to determine what the impact of this eye disease was having on life in the German population.
The German study consisted of a self-reported functional health, well-being and disease burden of wet macular degeneration on elderly patients. The German study assessed elderly patients with and without wet macular degeneration, with 83 patients having wet macular degeneration and 93 patients without the eye disease.
The German patients were contacted via structured telephone surveys and were asked to report their history of falls, fractures, and health care resource utilization. In addition, the health care utilization and unit costs for wet macular degeneration patients was calculated.
Wet macular degeneration patients in Germany reported significantly worse vision-related functions and overall well-being controls, including significantly more depression symptoms than those without the eye disease. Wet macular degeneration patients also reported there was a greater need for assistance with many daily activities. This was more than 10 times greater in wet macular degeneration patients than in those patients without the eye disease (26.5 percent vs 2.2 percent). There were 3 times as many falls in patients with wet macular degeneration than those without (13.3 percent vs 4.3 percent).
In determining the costs associated with the disease for German patients, the annual costs calculated for those with macular degeneration was 9871 Euros, 6 times that of patients without macular degeneration (1559 Euros). Of all the costs associated with the eye disease, one-half was associated with non-medical related costs and one-third with direct medical related costs.
In this study, wet macular degeneration patients in Germany were shown to have decreased functional abilities and quality of life, which resulted in the significant increase in health care resource utilization. This is what lead to higher costs for these patients compared to those without the eye disease.
These findings in Germany clearly indicate that there is a need for new macular degeneration treatments that will prevent vision loss and the progression to blindness. This will lessen the economic burden to both individuals and the health care system.