‘Significant burden of treatment’ for patients with wet AMD

High levels of anxiety are among the extra burdens for wet AMD patients, according to the Macular Society

NHS staff and patient
Patients with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) are suffering with a ‘significant burden of treatment’, including high levels of anxiety, a new report from the Macular Society has revealed.

Over half of those undergoing treatment for the nation’s biggest cause of blindness are experiencing ongoing anxiety about their treatment for wet AMD – regardless of how long they have been receiving it for.

Of the 456 respondents currently receiving treatment, 55% admitted to feeling anxious ‘always’ or ‘some of the time’ before their appointments.

The feelings of anxiety did not change according to how long they had been receiving their treatments, with half undergoing treatment for more than three years.

This goes against the belief that over time patients are likely to become less anxious, as they become accustomed to frequent anti-VEGF injections. One patient noted that they “worry about the future” and “about losing more of my vision” during each visit.

The research aimed to better understanding the burden of current treatment for patients with wet AMD.

Aside from highlighting a high level of anxiety in patients undergoing treatment, the resulting impact on the patients’ families was also noted.

Two thirds of respondents said they rely on family or friends to take them to and from their regular eye clinic appointments, meaning an average time commitment of between one and three hours each time. One patient told the researchers that “my daughters both live a distance from me so a whole day is needed… for every appointment. This impacts considerably on family life for them as well as me.”

Cathy Yelf, chief executive of the Macular Society, said: “Even though patients and healthcare providers are trying their best, we know the burden and the associated burden of treatment for wet AMD is high.

“Through new advances in wet AMD treatment allowing for longer intervals between treatments, we hope that some of the burden for both patients and clinicians will be reduced.”

The research has been released just as a potential new treatment for wet AMD is entering the market. Beovu (brolucizumab), is currently being assessed by NICE for its clinical and cost effectiveness. If successful, Beovu will help to reduce the burden of treatment as patients may only require injections every three months. In early September, the treatment was approved by the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) for NHS patients in Scotland.

Geraldine Hoad, research manager at the Macular Society, added: “This survey was a timely reminder of the extent to which treatment for wet AMD impacts on patients and their friends and families. We’d like to thank all those who took the time to help us understand their experience of attending eye clinics for injections.”