Sarda SP, Heyes A, Bektas M, Thankur T, Chao W, Intorcia M, Wronski S, Jones DL. Humanistic and economic burden of geographic atrophy: a systematic literature review. Clin Opththa. 2021 Dec 8;2021(15):4629-44.

PURPOSE: Geographic atrophy (GA), the advanced form of dry age-related macular degeneration, can result in irreversible blindness over time. We performed a systematic literature review to assess the humanistic and economic burden of GA.

METHODS: Predefined search terms were used to identify studies in PubMed, Embase, and Cochrane Library; conference abstracts also were searched.

RESULTS: Of 1,111 unique studies identified, 25 studies on humanistic burden, 4 on economic burden, and 3 on both humanistic and economic burden of GA were included. Vision-related functioning and health-related quality of life (HRQOL) are poor in patients with GA. HRQOL is commonly measured using the 25-item National Eye Institute Visual Function Questionnaire (NEI VFQ-25); patients with GA have significantly lower composite and subscale scores for near activities, distance activities, dependency, driving, social functioning, mental health, role difficulties, color vision, and peripheral vision than individuals without GA. Driving is a particular concern, and inability to drive affects dependency. Vision-related quality of life (VRQOL) declines as GA progresses. While we identified only 7 reports describing the economic burden of GA, its direct costs may be substantial. In a US study, mean cost to the payer per patient with GA was $11,533 in the year after diagnosis. A multinational study estimated annualized total direct costs of €1,772 per patient with GA, mainly driven by diagnostic tests and procedures (€1,071). Patients with GA are at increased risk of falls and fractures, potentially increasing direct costs. Only one study evaluated indirect costs, estimating ~$24.4 billion in yearly lost wages among people with severe vision loss due to GA or drusen ≥125 μm.

CONCLUSIONS: GA represents a significant humanistic burden. Evidence on the economic impact of GA is limited; characterizing the economic burden of GA requires further research. Interventions that reduce GA-related disability may improve HRQOL and reduce indirect costs.

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