Global Study Highlights Significant Impact of Geographic Atrophy on Quality of Life

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Nancy Holekamp, MD discusses the substantial emotional burden and impact on independence of GA reported in the Geographic Atrophy Insights Survey.

New findings from the Geographic Atrophy Insights Survey (GAINS) revealed that nearly seven in ten (68%) patients with geographic atrophy (GA) believe the impact on their independence and quality of life due to visual decline is worse than they expected.

The first-of-its-kind survey additionally found the majority of patients felt GA had negative impacts on aspects of everyday life, including the ability to read or drive. Moreover, study data report 3 of 4 patients (76%) attributed vision loss to natural aging prior to GA diagnosis.

In an interview with HCPLive, Nancy Holekamp, MD, Director of Retina Services, Pepose Vision Institute, highlighted the importance of these insights into GA and how they may reflect ongoing conversations on managing and treating the disease.

"Anytime you have a survey where more than 90% of patients are giving you the same answers, it really shows a profound impact of disease on these daily activities of life," Holekamp said.

Holekamp compared the current landscape for GA in age-related macular degeneration (AMD) to that of the early days in wetAMD. As a retina specialist, she noted two key things in those early days: clinicans watched people lose their vision and patients did not know much about why they were losing vision.

At the advent of treatments for wetAMD, a large public awareness campaign aided clinicans in narrowing these gaps and at the cusp of a treatment for GA, she noted the same should be done.

"We now need to do the exact same thing," Holekamp said. "I think a broad public awareness campaign on the devastating consequences of having GA due to AMD and I also think that physicians can do a better job of describing advanced dry macular degeneration to patients using the terms GA or geographic atrophy."

Holekamp additionally remarked on the heavy emotional burden of the disease and how this is a global disease, with long-reaching consequences.

"I think when diseases don't have a treatment, sometimes their impact on people's lives and independence is overlooked," she said. "And I think that to be fully aware of how GA due to AMD really robs people of their quality of life is an important message."