As age-related macular degeneration (AMD) becomes more prevalent as a result of longer life expectancy and the number of elderly people worldwide, it will become increasingly important to understand its potential health and economic impact for appropriate healthcare planning. This review identified published literature on costs and resource use associated with AMD. Despite the increasing prevalence of AMD, the worldwide burden of illness is unknown. Several studies of direct medical costs, both those associated with ophthalmic care and those associated with other care, have been conducted and have identified increased medical care associated with AMD. Direct non-medical costs include the cost for vision aids; while these costs may be substantial, they are difficult to quantify as no comprehensive sources track the distribution or use of vision aids. Because AMD is uncommon among people of working age, there is less concern regarding the impact of indirect (workplace) costs among AMD patients. However, indirect costs are incurred by caregivers who leave the workforce early or change their work patterns in order to provide assistance to AMD patients; the magnitude of caregiver-related costs is unknown. The cost effectiveness of some interventions for AMD has been explored. Supplementation with zinc and antioxidants for non-exudative (dry) AMD has been shown to result in an acceptable cost per QALY and is considered cost effective. Studies suggest that laser photocoagulation is cost effective but that photodynamic therapy with verteporfin appears to be cost effective only among patients with good visual acuity at baseline or when models extend longer than 5 years. Further research is needed to integrate the information on various components of AMD-related costs into a comprehensive burden of illness estimate and to evaluate basic utility assumptions in existing models.
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