Wet age-related macular degeneration (wet AMD) may cause more people to lose their vision than previously thought, according to the largest analysis of published material on the condition ever conducted.
The research revealed that AMD could affect up to 40,000 people every year, while the NHS and NICE estimate that only 26,000 people develop the condition per year.
The study, which was published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology, also found that the risk of developing AMD becomes four times higher after every decade of life. While it affects only one in 2,000 60-year-olds, one in five 90-year-olds are likely to have it.
The researchers estimated that more than 500,000 Britons currently have late-stage AMD, with many of them likely to be sight impaired or severely sight impaired.
Dr Christopher Owen, senior lecturer in epidemiology at the University of London and the lead investigator, said: “This work suggests that the number of people developing macular degeneration has been underestimated to date and that far more might benefit from treatment or are in need of advice about coping with the condition.”