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Treatment of retinal conditions appears to have changed significantly in previous decade
Date:10/11/2010

The number of Medicare recipients undergoing treatment for retinal conditions nearly doubled between 1997 and 2007, with significant shifts in the types of procedures most commonly performed, according to a report in the October issue of Archives of Ophthalmology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

"Retinal disease is highly prevalent among older individuals, and both age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic retinopathy account for more than half the irreversible blindness in older Americans. The prevalence of both macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy increases with age, and the number of Americans affected by these conditions is expected to increase substantially as the number of Americans older than 65 years doubles from 2010 to 2040," the authors write as background information in the article. "The last decade has seen substantial changes in the treatment options available for many retinal diseases, particularly in the treatment of neovascular AMD," a form of the disease involving abnormal blood vessel growth in the eye.

Pradeep Y. Ramulu, M.D., M.H.S., Ph.D., of Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, and colleagues analyzed Medicare fee-for-service data claims filed between 1997 and 2007. Overall, the number of retinal procedures performed increased 192 percent. Increases occurred each year except between 1997 and 1998; the largest year-to-year increase in volume, 20 percent, occurred between 2006 and 2007.

"Procedure volumes changed most markedly for treatments directed toward neovascular AMD," the authors write. New treatments for this condition include intravitreal therapyinjections of drugs administered directly into the eyeof antibodies that block the formation of new blood vessels. Between 1997 and 2001, fewer than 5,000 such injections were performed each year. However, rates more than doubled each year through 2006, increasing between 2001 (when 4,215 of these procedures were
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Contact: John Lazarou
jlazaro1@jhmi.edu
410-502-8902
JAMA and Archives Journals
Source:Eurekalert

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