A study conducted at New York Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center, and published in Nature Medicine, indicates that patients with macular degeneration are at higher risk of complications due to COVID-19.
The study, entitled “Immune complement and coagulation dysfunction in adverse outcomes of SARS-CoV-2 infection,” looked at 6,398 COVID patients during the first wave of the pandemic.
Among the patients, researchers tracked macular degeneration patients because, as Dr. Sagi Shapira explained, there was a suspected link between hyperactive complement system activity and more severe disease progression in COVID patients, and it is understood that macular degeneration is a disease driven by a hyperactive complement system.
You can read the original study here. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41591-020-1021-2
The authors found that macular degeneration was strongly associated with poor outcomes from COVID-19, including increased need for intubation and increased mortality. Those in the study with macular degeneration and who died also succumbed more quickly than other patients. Neither age nor sex could explain the increased succeptibility of AMD patients to this infection.
To be clear, this study does not indicate that AMD patients are more at risk of GETTING COVID-19, but IF they do become infected, they are at more risk of complications.
What You Can Do
We share this with you not to alarm you, but to empower you to make the best possible decisions for your health and safety.
Evidence is strong that wearing a mask (fitted and worn properly) while in public, social distancing, frequent and thorough hand-washing, and avoiding public and private gatherings (even amongst family and friends) greatly reduces your risk of contracting the virus.
Here is a link to a good guide on the level of protection different types of masks provide, what type of mask to wear in different environments, and how to ensure proper fit. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/01/26/n95-masks-safest-next-best-options/
And click here for another article on increasing your protection with double-masking and how to do it properly:
Additionally, intentional planning to reduce your number of outings reduces your exposure. For example, stocking up on groceries in order to reduce frequency of trips to grocery stores, or, even better, having groceries delivered, will reduce your exposure, and therefore risk, to the virus that causes COVID-19.
We are not doctors and can’t advise you on your decision to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, but we hope this information will help you make the best decision for you, under your doctor’s advice, as you make choices for your health and safety..
What Else You Can Do
Your doctors may not be aware of this study. COVID-19 is still a new virus and keeping up with all the information is challenging.
Before visits to any of your doctors, ask that they schedule you during low traffic times, ask what their safety protocols are, and let them know you have a condition that is suspected to greatly increase your risk of COVID-19- related complications should you contract the virus. You can also forward this study to them.
Please also see our guide, Coronavirus and Your Macular Degeneration Care .
If You Have Questions
While we aim to empower you with this information, we know that it may raise questions. You can leave your question in the comments below or send your questions to us through the contact form on our site. It’s possible that we won’t be able to answer all of your questions, nor respond to you individually, and remember, our team is not equipped to give you individual medical advice. But, if there are questions we can answer, we’ll update this article or answer your questions in comments.
Please share this article with your friends and loved ones, both to inform them of your risk, but also so that they may share it with their friends and family so that we can get this information into the hands of anyone who needs it.
If this work is important to you, please consider supporting us today. You can become a supporting monthly member, or make a one-time donation today by clicking below.
35 thoughts on “Study Indicates AMD Patients are at Higher Risk of COVID-19 Complications”
How was the presence of AMD defined? Is it only advanced AMD, i.e. choroidal neovascularization or geographic atrophy, or did they also include earlier stages of AMD
It is our understanding that stage of AMD did not matter, but we’ll pass this on to the researchers to see if they have a more specific answer. Thank you!
I WAS ONLY TOLD THAT I HAD AMD, AND THE RIGHT EYE WAS WET AND THE LEFT EYE WAS STILL AT THIS POINT DRY. ADVANCED STUDENTS FROM MCGEE’S EYE SCHOOL WOULD SEND DOCTORS TO HELP WITH OPTIONS AND PROTOCOLS TO THE V.A. HOSPITAL IN OKLAHOMA CITY. T-O DATE I HAVE TAKEN 15 SHOTS INTO THE RETINA WITH TWO DIFFERENT FORMULAS, ALONG WI+TH PRESCRIPTIONS OF AREDS 2. A LOT OF SCARE
TISSUE IN RIGHT EYE, BUT BLEEDING STOPPED.
Thank you for this information.
Please follow-up with any information known about AMD patients who get the vaccine (reactions etc.) and is there, or will there be, information about how the vaccine protects AMD patients, if any differently than people who don’t have AMD or information regarding contracting Covid or recovery from Covid?
We will pass these questions on to the researchers, and as information comes to us we will share with the community here. Thank you for your feedback!
How about sending his information to hospitals so they can impart this information to their staffs.
We’ll pass this suggestion on. Thank you!
Thanks for this information
You’re welcome Elaine!
Does getting covid vaccine help or hurt Macular degeneration?
There is currently no data on this, but we will pass on this question to the researchers.
ANY CLINICAL TRIALS RELATED TO AMD PEOPLE & VACCINES ?
Not that we are currently aware of.
I am debating whether or not to get the vaccine at my age – 90 – and with AMD. Do specialists have enough data for best advice of this question?
This is a difficult question that is best discussed with your primary care doctor or a specialist you trust. They will have a better understanding of your current health conditions and your medical history, and you can specifically ask them what the latest research is.
I have myopic macular degeneration. Does this research pertain to this diagnosis or only to age-related macular degeneration? Thank you for any response.
This was not reported in the study, but we will submit this question to the researchers.
Was there any evidence that those with Myopic Macular Degeneration were also at higher risk for Covid 19 complications?
This was not covered in the study, but we will submit this question to the researchers.
I have a question regarding this new information. How does Covid-19 affect people with AMD? Does it make the condition much worse? Or, is there anything else?
From what we know so far, it increases the risk of need for intubation, more severe illness from COVID, and increased risk of mortality due to complications. This does not mean everyone with AMD will have a bad outcome, just that the risk is higher.
Yes, if I contact COVID what are the best treatment recommendation. That is lacking in this alert.
Kay, the study was not looking for best treatment recommendations. COVID-19 is an evolving situation as we learn more information about it. If we come across any studies on best treatment recommendations we will be sure to share.
I really don’t see how this is not age associated. It seems those that are older have more AMD and those that are older I’m more susceptible. How could these not be connected? How strong was the association found to be in the study? Would it be termed , Slight , moderate, strong?
Thanks very much for this information. I do support you with at least $1,000 annually. I hope that does some good. I have AMD. and depend on your info and research.
Mari, we so appreciate your support! And we do our best to keep the information coming. Be well!
With the COVID-19 vaccine, will it help this problem. I got my first vaccine shot on 2/5/2021.
In the sense that vaccination reduces your risk of COVID-19 illness or severe illness, it would follow that this will help. We hope it does!
My wife and I had our second Moderna shots last Wednesday. She has AMD (left eye) and wet AMD (right eye). No noticeable changes in vision. Our son (a doctor) says vaccination doesn’t mean we can’t catch the virus. Antibodies should reduce the severity of the disease if we get it. And we can still be carriers/spreaders. But he has no info on AMD-related risks post-vaccination.
There’s not likely enough data yet for AMD-related risks post-vaccination. The study referenced here was pre-vaccination. Glad to hear you both got vaccinated! Stay safe!
Thank you for this information. I am a 90-yr-old female with wet AMD of 10 years duration. I had my 1st Phizer vaccine Jan 19. Despite extreme care I contracted Covid-19 and was diagnosed positive Feb 1. I have had mild symptoms (cough, runny nose, fatigue, disordered taste & smell). I am not aware of any vision changes, though I will be overdue for my injections. Though I will not be able to get the 2nd shot this week as scheduled, I feel very sure that having had the first one protected me from more serious disease.
Thanks for this very important information. Based on this study is the CDC going to add AMD to the list of pre-existing medical conditions that would allow us to get the vaccine during an earlier phase of the rollout? I’m only 64 but have wet AMD in both eyes.
As we are all aware, the COVID19 death rate and severity of conditions rise with age. Since the majority of AMD patients are older people, how is this any different? What are the comparative statistics within age groups of people with and without AMD?
Right after I got my first shot of the vaccine, I drove home. My eyes where burning and I had trouble driving at night. I haven’t had any trouble driving at night for over 10 years or more. All the lights looked like diamonds and I had trouble with depth perception when I turned left and turned with the curve of the road. Could this be a reaction to the COVID-19 vaccine.
Obviously this means that it is a good thing to get the vaccine ASAP so if and when I do get Covid that I will not have as bad of symptoms as i would have if I had not gotten the shot. Also, for your info., my husband saw his and my pulmonary dr today 2/10/21 who btw is a very reputable pulmonary dr here in Florida who said that a lot of the doctors got together for a meeting and they said that everyone will eventually get Covid and that it is inevitable and that both my husband and I (I have AMD and asthma and COPD and 70 yo} should get the vaccination and get the second shot too. He said there won’t be anything with the first shot, maybe a sore arm, but the second shot you will be sick for 24 hours and then OK after that. But the vaccine will prevent us from having severe symptoms when we get covid and we won’t die. A lot less severe reaction. This info made me decide definitively that I am going to get the vaccine.
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