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Marie Tournier
Yola Moride
Mark Lesk
Thierry Ducruet
Sophie Rochon


Macular degeneration, burden-of-illness, elderly, depletion of susceptibles



With the aging of the population, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is becoming a public health concern. Few studies have assessed its consequences on morbidity and mortality, and the findings are conflicting.


To assess the risk of depression, fracture, institutionalization, and death among elderly patients with suspected exudative AMD and the impact of the depletion of susceptibles effect in a burden-of-illness study.


A  population-based  retrospective  cohort  study  was  conducted  in  the  community-dwelling  elderly population of Quebec. The cohort was assembled through the Quebec medical claims database (RAMQ). Among patients age 65 and older with a claim involving a diagnosis of AMD over the years 2000 to 2004, those with suspected exudative AMD (n=2,071) were retained, using fluorescein angiography as a marker. The reference cohort consisted of a sample of 16,932 elderly without a claim involving AMD or visual impairment.


Suspected exudative AMD was associated with an increased risk of depression (hazard ratio HR=1.3, 95%CI 1.18-1.43) and fracture (HR=1.19, 95%CI 1.03-1.37), but a decreased risk of institutionalization (HR=0.55,  95%CI  0.42-0.71)  and  death  (HR=0.68,  95%CI  0.59 -0.78).  After  adjustment  for  the incident/prevalent status of the AMD, the association between suspected exudative AMD and institutionalization was no longer statistically significant (HR=0.75, 95%CI 0.5-1.12) .


These findings enhance the need to detect visual loss and to consider patients’ ability to adapt to AMD, to maintain their quality of life. Failure to account for duration of illness and the depletion of susceptibles effect may bias results of burden-of-illness studies.

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