When should I have AMD treatment?
When should I have AMD treatment? The answer to this question is as soon as possible, but it’s important that I can see you to make an accurate diagnosis as quickly as possible to establish what the problem actually is. I have seen many patients who were given one diagnosis but actually turned out to have a different condition altogether as several different conditions can mimic the retinal changes seen in AMD. Assuming you have AMD it’s important to know that there are 2 forms of advanced (late) AMD known as “dry” AMD and “wet” AMD. In dry AMD, waste material (known as drusen) builds up below the retina and is associated with death of the light detecting retinal cells (photoreceptors), the layer of supporting cells below the retina (known as the retinal pigment epithelium, often abbreviated to “RPE”) and loss of the supporting layer of blood vessels (the choriocapillaris). Loss of these 3 layers leads to thinning of the retina and dry AMD (also known as “geographic atrophy” or “outer retinal atrophy”).
At the moment, there are no effective treatments for dry age-related macular degeneration though there’s a lot of active research going on and things may well change. One of my key research aims is to help find a cure for dry AMD and indeed to stop early forms of AMD developing into advanced AMD. This is a key goal for patients and other stakeholders with interest in the treatment of AMD and is something I am actively involved in trying to achieve.
There are, however, effective treatments for wet AMD and one message I really want to get across is not to delay diagnosis and treatment of wet AMD. Although we can deliberate and ask important questions about which drug should be used for wet AMD treatment, how many treatments should be delivered and who should deliver my care, we should not forget that the sooner you start treatment for wet age-related macular degeneration the better the treatment outcomes are not only in the short term but actually in the longer term when it comes to stabilising and indeed improving your vision. Early treatment of wet AMD is the key to making sure we do diagnosing our best to prevent further vision loss and give patients the best chance of improving vision in the long term.
The road to finding out if you need treatment or not starts with a consultation in which I will ask you about your vision and your medical history. Often, I use drops to dilate the pupil to get a better look at the retina at the back of the eye. In addition to this eye examination, I would generally advise patients to have retinal imaging tests carried out so I can be accurate in terms of wet AMD, but these retinal scans also help me to assess how severe the condition is and potentially tell you more about what you might expect in terms of treatment outcomes. At the end of the consultation and after the eye examination and retinal scans I can then discuss a treatment plan with you, so we can agree on which treatment to use and to discuss the aims and expectations of treatment. Importantly, all patients vary in terms of the pattern and severity of wet AMD and it’s important to personalise treatment plans and goals. Do check out other parts of the website to see how you can arrange an appointment to see me.