Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) could affect 10 million more people in Europe by 2050, according to a new study.
With an ageing population, scientists say the condition is on the rise and predict rates of the condition will increase by 15 per cent in the next 30 years – from 67 million in 2015 to 77 million.
Currently the Macular Society estimates there are 600,000 people in the UK with AMD, but the new study published in the British Medical Journal has predicted there are in fact 1.2m affected in the UK alone. This number is expected to increase to 1.6m by 2050.
Cathy Yelf, chief executive of the Macular Society, said: “These figures are extremely concerning and don’t even take into consideration those, including young people and children, affected by other types of macular disease.
“We already know this is set to be the next public health crisis and it has never been more urgent for us to find a cure for this cruel and isolating condition.”
According to the study advanced stages of the condition will become more common as well, meaning there will be increasing numbers of people registered as blind or partially sighted.
Researchers from the University of Bonn in Germany looked at existing rates of the disease to try and predict how its impact would increase in future.
They used data from 26 studies covering more than 55,323 people, many of them between the ages of 60 and 81.
Using this data they estimated that by 2050 around one in four adults in the EU will have AMD.
Among under 50s this rate would be 0.5 per 1,000 and for the over-70s it would be 6.7 per 1,000.
Bonn researchers, led by Dr Jeany Li, said: “This will require considerable additional healthcare service and resource allocation, which should be considered already today in all European healthcare systems.”
The Bonn team's research suggests the number of existing AMD cases will rise by 15 per cent in that time, while the number of new cases each year will rocket by 75 per cent.
People aged 75 and older would see the steepest increase in AMD rates, rising from 50 million to 57.6m and of those, 12m would have advanced AMD, up from 10m in 2015.
New cases of advanced AMD is expected to almost double as it is set to increase from 400,000 each year to 700,000 by 2050.