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Previous studies have shown a disproportionately high incidence rate of wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in Asian populations. This excessive prevalence occurs in Asian patients in the United States and around the world. This finding has led researchers to believe that biogenetic markers may exist that affect the prevalence, presentation, and outcomes of Asian American patients with wet AMD.

A retrospective study was conducted using four years of data from a single retina specialist. The data included 32 self-identified Asians and 218 non-Asians, who had recently been diagnosed with wet AMD and had not received previous treatment. The medium age of the Asian participants was 74.75 and 79.52 for the non-Asian participants.

Patient data were collected of vision and anatomical features at presentation, treatment received, and patient outcomes at 3, 6, 9, and 12 months. It was found that 70.8% of the Asian patients displayed pigment epithelial detachment (PED) at presentation, contrasting with 38% of non-Asians. Additionally, 37.5% of the Asian patients possessed polypoidal features versus only 12% of the non-Asians.

The mean visual acuity in the Asian participants was 20/118 at diagnosis, 20/91 at 3 months, 20/93 at 6 months, and 20/93 at 12 months. The non-Asian participants reported 20/89 at diagnosis, 20/78 at 3 months, 20/74 at 6 months, and 20/58 at 12 months. During the 12 month follow-up period, the Asian participants required an average of 5.3 injections. The non-Asian participants required an average of 5.8 injections.

In conclusion, this study found that Asian Americans were more likely to be diagnosed with wet AMD at an earlier age than non-Asians, show male predominance, have PED and polypoidal features, and display worse visual acuity at the time of diagnosis. Further research is needed to understand the prevalence of wet AMD in the Asian community and why Asian Americans are less likely to experience visual improvement after treatment [1].

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[1] Ng, C., Kim, S., & Lai, M.M. (2018, July). Wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration in Asian Americans and non-Asians: An Analysis of Comparative Outcomes. Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology 2018, Honolulu, Hawaii. https://iovs.arvojournals.org/article.aspx?articleid=2692893