PURPOSE: The aim of this study was to understand people's experience with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in light of new treatment successes. METHODS: An interpretive qualitative methodology was used to facilitate understanding of the experience of people with AMD. Rich in-depth data were collected using focus groups and individual interviews. Thematic analysis of the data occurred through the processes of line-by-line coding, aggregation, and theme development using the NVivo 10 software. RESULTS: A total of 4 focus groups and 16 individual interviews were conducted with 34 people (median age = 81 years; range = 56 to 102 years; 19 females) with AMD. Four major themes arose from the narratives of the participants: cautious optimism, enduring, adaptation, and profound loss. Cautious optimism resonated for participants who had received successful treatment and stabilization of AMD. Enduring emerged as participants with exudative AMD described an ongoing need for invasive and frequent treatments (anti-vascular endothelial growth factor injections) that maintained their vision. Adaptation was evident in the narratives of all participants and was directly related to the physical and psychological limitations that were a consequence of visual disability. Profound loss encompassed both physical and emotional aspects of deteriorating vision and was most evident in patients for whom treatment had failed or had not been considered appropriate for their disease. CONCLUSIONS: The findings of this study shed new light on the influence of underlying pathology, disease trajectory, and success of new treatments on quality of life of people living with AMD. Optimism toward maintaining vision in the presence of exudative AMD was described by participants, moderated by ongoing caution and a need for endurance of frequent and often problematic intravitreal treatments. These findings add a deeper understanding of this complex and life-changing experience.
- Age-related macular degeneration
- Intravitreal injection
- Quality of life