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Who’s who in AMD? A healthcare market research overview…

Age Regulated Macular Degeneration, or AMD as it’s also known, is a common eye condition and the leading form of central vision loss in the UK, currently affecting more than 600,000 people. By 2020, it’s predicted that 700,000 people will have late stage AMD in the UK, making it a fast growing area in healthcare market research.

AMD develops when the macula, a small spot near the centre of the retina that is required for sharp, clear vision, is damaged. In some people, AMD advances so slowly that vision loss doesn’t occur for a long time, whereas in others it progresses quickly and may lead to a loss of vision in one or both eyes.

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Symptoms of AMD include difficulty reading, colours not appearing as vibrantly as before and people’s faces becoming more difficult to recognise. As it progresses, a blurred area often appears near the centre of vision that grows larger over time with blank spots developing too. Because it doesn’t affect peripheral vision, AMD alone doesn’t cause total blindness, however the loss of central vision can interfere with simple everyday activities such as the ability to see faces, drive, read or write.

There are two different types of AMD. Dry AMD, the most common and less serious type of AMD, develops when the cells of the macula becomes damaged by a buildup of deposits called drusen. Wet AMD or Neovascular AMD is the more serious type of AMD and develops when abnormal blood vessels form underneath the macula and damage its cells. Without treatment, wet AMD can cause vision to deteriorate within days.

Age is the most major risk factor for AMD, with the disease being more likely to occur in people age 60 or above, but it can occur earlier. Other factors that affect it include smoking, race (AMD more commonly affects Caucasians than African Americans or Hispanics/Latinos) and people with a family history are also at a higher risk. It’s also more common in women than men.

Healthcare market research and AMD

AMD treatment

Unfortunately there is no cure for either type of AMD, but there are treatment options available. Treatment for dry AMD helps people to make the most out of their remaining vision – for example, using magnifying lenses to make reading easier. There’s also evidence to suggest eating a diet rich with leafy greens may slow down the progression of dry AMD. Wet AMD can be treated with anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF) medication, which helps to stop vision getting worse by preventing further blood vessels developing and laser surgery can also sometimes be used to destroy abnormal blood vessels.

Who treats it?


Optometrists carry out detailed examinations of the eyes to detect defects in vision, signs of injury, ocular disease or abnormalities as well as problems with general health. In addition, they also check for refractive error and prescribe glasses and medication as well as providing routine eye care.

Optometrists can usually be found in high street opticians and research, training and other health settings. Historically we have recruited smaller sample sizes for qualitative fieldwork including individual depth interviews, focus groups and online qual. We have also successfully recruited slightly larger samples for quantitative studies – we would recommend a sample no larger than n=100 for this methodology and this is largely dependent on screening criteria.


Ophthalmologists are medically trained doctors who manage patients with acute and long-term eye disease. Ophthalmology is a mixed medical and surgical specialty with many sub specialties such as glaucoma, ocuplastic surgery, surgical retina, cornea and anterior segment. They manage patients with conditions including major and minor eye injuries, infectious eye diseases, chronic diseases of the eye such as diabetic retinopathy and AMD as well as cataracts, squints, retinal problems and intraocular inflammation.

When it comes to healthcare market research, we can recruit this respondent type of both qual and quant methodologies. Historically we have successfully recruited Ophthalmologists treating AMD for central location interviews, focus groups and online studies. If you are looking to conduct central location interviews with this respondent type we’d recommend between £120 – £150 for honorarium per 60 minutes – they are a high level respondent in the UK and not all of them will be seeing AMD patients.

If you are considering recruiting for an online quant survey then we’d recommend a sample size no bigger than n=50 and again, this would be dependant on the qualifying criteria. Another consideration when recruiting Ophthalmologists is location. Two of the biggest eye hospitals are Moorfields in London and  Manchester Royal Eye Hospital so when recruiting respondents in these locations it would be beneficial to bare in mind you may need to recruit more than one per hospital otherwise you will limit your sample size.

Retina Specialists

Retina specialists are specialists in ophthalmology that work in hospitals and clinics. Retina specialists diagnose and treat specific parts of the human visual system and in addition to AMD, retina specialists may also treat severe eye trauma and hereditary diseases of the eye.

When it comes to recruiting retina specialists for healthcare market research, they are more difficult to recruit than an Ophthalmologist based on how many there are in the UK, therefore we’d recommend a sample size no more than n=30 and this is based on recruiting for online, CATi or online qual. The sample size for central location or face to face interviews would be less – this also depends on the qualifying criteria.

Who can we access for medical fieldwork?

Here at GKA we have completed 80 market research projects with the above respondent types in recent years. Recruiting a range of respondent types including ophthalmologists, retinal specialists, KOLs, pharmacists and patients. Our panel includes 30 AMD patients, a further 147 patients who suffer from other eye conditions and 258 ophthalmologists, so if you are looking to carry out a market research project in AMD, we can help you reach out to the right people.

If you are thinking about conducting a healthcare market research study in AMD and would like to find out more about how GKA can help, download our panel book to find out more.