Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common cause of sight loss in the developed world. In the UK more than 600,000 people are affected by AMD. There are two types of AMD – wet and dry.
Wet AMD develops when abnormal blood vessels leak into the macular (this is the small central point of the retina, which is responsible for our central vision) and cause scarring and loss of central vision. It can develop rapidly. It can be treated if caught quickly.
Dry AMD is a slow deterioration of the cells of the macular. The ‘dry’ doesn’t mean you have dry eyes, it is just used as a term to differentiate it from Wet AMD.
AMD is associated with age, usually over 60+, and there is a link to sunlight and smoking as causes. A healthy diet has shown to be effective in slowing down the progression of AMD.
We’ve put together a journey map for our patients to show the different stages from your initial eye check through to treatment and what you can expect at each stage. You may be right at the beginning of your journey and not been diagnosed yet or somewhere in the middle and wondering what comes next. We hope you find this useful and that it answers some of your questions – please call us if you would like any more information about any of the stages or what to expect on your patient journey.
If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms above then you need to get your eyes checked as soon as possible by your local optician, who will examine your eyes and conduct a sight test to check the quality of your vision. The optician will be able to refer you to SpaMedica or another specialist, depending on what treatment you require.FIND AN OPTICIAN
If your optician suspects you have AMD they will place you through a ‘rapid referral’ process to attend a AMD assessment clinic. You will receive a call or letter with an appointment within two weeks.
If you come to SpaMedica for your assessment you can be reassured we will give you a warm welcome, guide you through the assessment and answer any questions you may have about AMD. We understand that you may be worried or stressed and our expert staff are on-hand to support you.
Your eyes will be dilated at this appointment – please note dilating the eyes causes blurred vision and sensitivity to light, so you won’t be able to drive; so it’s important to make sure you organise a lift or arrange transport to/from the hospital. SpaMedica provides free transport for some patients, based on your location and other criteria – if you’re struggling to find transport please speak to a member of our Referrals team to see if you qualify for free transport.
If you wear contact lenses these should not be worn at least 48 hours before your appointment – both eyes will be checked at your assessment.
Your assessment will consist of our team conducting a few tests as detailed below:
The consultant ophthalmologist will receive the results and photos from your tests and review these. They will provide a diagnosis and recommend any appropriate treatment.
You will receive a letter or call to let you know what the diagnosis is and, if AMD is confirmed, you will be informed of next steps.
If your AMD can be treated you will booked into an AMD Clinic to begin your treatment course. The treatment course starts with attending a clinic and receiving treatment once a month for three months. You will then have an eye check and an individual treatment schedule put together – this varies for each person. Our AMD patient booklet explains the treatment process step by step, click here to download.
We will discuss the next steps of the AMD treatment with you, what your treatment involves and answer any questions you may have. If you are happy to go ahead with the treatment course then we will ask you to sign a consent form. Please let us know if you have a lasting power of attorney (LPA) or require support for giving consent.
Each of your AMD Clinic visits will consist of a vision test and scan to check your eyes and treatment will be an injection in the eye (using a very small needle) using a specially formulated drug (called Anti-VEGF), which helps to reduce any further leakage from the abnormal vessels.
It is important to attend each of your appointments as close to the schedule as possible. You will need to rearrange your appointment if you have an infection or experiencing other symptoms – please call us before your appointment to discuss and change date, if required. The new appointment date should be as soon as possible to keep your treatment on track.
It is normal to feel anxious about your treatment and we are here to help. Please contact us if you have any questions. We have a friendly team of experts who are here to make you as comfortable as possible and support you throughout your time with us.
Advice and recommendations for your AMD Clinic
We’ve put together the following detailed steps you’ll go through when you attend your AMD Clinic to help put your mind at ease. Hundreds of thousands of people receive this treatment every month and you’ll meet some of our ‘veteran AMD’ patients who will be able to give you some ‘first-hand’ reassurance.
You will initially attend three consecutive monthly AMD clinics for eye checks and treatment. You will then receive a personalised schedule with the frequency of visits confirmed. It is usual in the first 12 months of treatment to attend seven clinics – three in the first three consecutive months and then one clinic every other month, totalling four more.
These are booked well in advance and you are recommended to keep to as close to your booked schedule as possible. Please contact us if you need to change any of your confirmed clinic dates.