AMD Affects Visual Function Differently Across Ethnicities

Unlike Malays and Chinese, Indians with age-related macular degeneration do not experience as severe a loss in visual function.

AsianScientist (Apr. 7, 2017) – In study that included Chinese, Malay, and Indian participants, researchers found that ethnicity affected visual function in patients with age-related macular degeneration (AMD). These findings have been published in JAMA Ophthalmology.

Understanding the link between ethnicity and health is critical to making appropriate public policy decisions. Few population-level data are available about this connection, however, including the influence of ethnicity on the association between AMD and vision-specific functioning (VSF). VSF includes the ability to read a newspaper or labels on medication bottles, among others.

Researchers from the Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC) conducted a study that included 9,962 Chinese, Malay, and Indian adults who had eye imaging and available data from the Visual Function Index, a questionnaire designed to measure functional impairment on patients due to vision loss. Visual acuity was also measured. The researchers examined the association between AMD and VSF in the three ethnic groups, indicating the grade of AMD as either early or late.

Of the participants, 590 (5.9 percent) had early AMD and 60 (0.6 percent) had late AMD. The researchers found that both early and late AMD were associated with poorer VSF in Chinese participants, and there was a trend toward worse VSF with increasing AMD severity in Malay participants; however, there was no association between AMD severity and VSF in Indian participants.

“Culturally sensitive interventions to improve VSF for Chinese and Malay people with AMD may be warranted. More research is needed to untangle the factors influencing the observed ethnic differences and inform communication strategies to help understand the impact of disease in different populations. Screening for early detection and management of AMD is needed to curb the progression of the disease and minimize its effect on VSF,” the authors write.

The article can be found at: Fenwick et al. (2017) Ethnic Differences in the Association Between Age-Related Macular Degeneration and Vision-Specific Functioning.


Source: JAMA Networks Journal; Photo: Shutterstock.
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