Major eye disease prevalence is up among US Medicare recipients, according to the results of a retrospective study published in Ophthalmology. The prevalence of patients older than 68 years of age who were diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration (AMD), diabetic retinopathy (DR), or glaucoma increased from 15.0% in 2005 to 17.9% in 2019, the researchers explain
Previous epidemiology studies into major eye disease prevalence are now outdated and this study sought to update the prevalence and incidence of these conditions. The researchers evaluated claims data from beneficiaries enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B FFS insurance. The number of beneficiaries ranged from 20.0 million in 2005 to 22.1 million in 2020.
The diagnosed prevalence of any AMD increased from 6.8% in 2005 to 9.4% in 2019 whereas the annual incidence of any diagnosis of AMD decreased from 2.5% to 2.3%. The diagnosed prevalence of DR decreased from 9.3% to 9.0% between 2005 and 2019. However, the number of affected individuals increased during this time period (504,135 to 532,859) due to the increase in prevalence of diabetes. The prevalence of glaucoma also decreased from 8.8% to 8.1% between 2005 and 2019 and the incidence decreased from 1.4% to 1.0%.
These trends were similar after age-standardization. The diagnosed major eye disease prevalence and incidence of any condition was greater among women than men in 2005, but sex-based differences decreased by 2019. The diagnosed prevalence of any condition in 2005 was highest among non-Hispanic Black beneficiaries (18.4%), followed by non-Hispanic White (16.4%), Hispanic (15.1%), Asian/Pacific Islander (14.7%), and other races/ethnicities (14.6%).
Compared with data from 30 years ago, this study reported a higher diagnosed major eye disease prevalence in medicare beneficiaries between 2005 and 2019. The study also reported decreased prevalence and incidence of each condition in 2020 compared with previous years. These data are consistent with other observations of fewer patients seeking medical care during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Because administrative claims data were evaluated, these results may be influenced by misclassification bias and diagnostic inaccuracy. However, the authors conclude that “findings from this study may therefore inform surveillance efforts and public health and policy planning, as well as efforts to promote vision health equity for a diverse older U.S. population.”