The predictive value of subjective symptoms and clinical signs for the presence of treatment-requiring exudative age-related macular degeneration


Toke Bek,
Department of Ophthalmology
Århus University Hospital
DK-8000 Århus C
Tel: 89493223
Fax: 86121653


Purpose:  The introduction of vascular endothelial growth factor inhibitors for the treatment of exudative age-related macular degeneration (AMD) has increased the referral rates of AMD patients with visual symptoms to treating centres considerably. However, a large proportion of the referred patients do not qualify for treatment implying that considerable resources could be saved if these patients could be identified on the basis of the clinical data available in the referring nonspecialized setting.

Methods:  A prospective observational study of 1682 consecutive patients referred with suspicion of exudative AMD qualifying for intravitreal angiostatic treatment. On the basis of the structured interviewing about symptoms, ophthalmoscopy, optical coherence tomography scanning, and fluorescein angiography, the patients were divided into two groups: one qualifying for and another not qualifying for treatment. Multiple logistic regression was used to identify independent parameters predicting the need for treatment.

Results:  The presence of metamorphopsia, dyschromatopsia, retinal haemorrhages and exudates, central retinal thickness, and the absence of micropsia were highly significant individual determinants of treatment-requiring AMD. Sudden onset and worsening of symptoms and the presence of a central dark spot covaried with the occurrence of retinal haemorrhages, whereas reduced visual acuity and blurred vision covaried with the presence of both haemorrhages and exudates.

Conclusion:  Patients with treatment-requiring AMD can be reliably identified by questioning about the presence of metamorphopsia and dyschromatopsia and the absence of micropsia, combined with ophthalmoscopical detection of retinal haemorrhages and exudates. This information may improve the triage of patients considered for referral.