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The incidence of wet age-related macular generation (AMD) is rising rapidly amidst an aging population. However, despite its name, age is not the only risk factor associated with wet AMD.

Environmental factors such as smoking have been known to increase the risk of wet AMD. Given the correlation between smoking and low socioeconomic status, this retrospective cohort study sought to compare baseline disease severity, treatment completion, and treatment outcomes among patients with wet AMD based on area socioeconomic status and the distance from a patient’s home to their treatment center.

Researchers analyzed the data of 756 patients with wet AMD over the age of 50 who received treatment with aflibercept between May 2013 and Jan 2017. Socioeconomic status was determined by factors such as income, living environment, and barriers to housing and services. Data were also collected on the proximity of patients to their hospital.

Findings showed that a significantly higher proportion of patients in the quintile with the lowest socioeconomic status presented with more severe cases of wet AMD than their high socioeconomic status counterparts. This finding was made with a correlation of greater wet AMD severity at baseline and greater area deprivation.

Furthermore, it was found that patients with lower socioeconomic status were more likely to have delayed treatment completion. This relationship was reduced after adjusting for age, gender, and distance from the hospital. Hospital distance was not found to be associated with baseline disease severity, treatment completion, or treatment outcome. 

The findings of this study can be used to target patients of lower socioeconomic status earlier to help prevent wet AMD progression and promote treatment adherence. Support for early detection in these communities and subsidizing care could lead to more equitable treatment and consequently improved quality of life for this vulnerable population [1].

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[1] More, P., Almuhtaseb, H., Smith, D., Fraser, S., & Lotery, A. J. (2019). Socio-economic status and outcomes for patients with age-related macular degeneration. Eye, 33(8), 1224–1231. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41433-019-0393-3