Awareness of AMD is lacking, study finds

Researchers have said that their findings “highlight the urgent need to raise awareness of the symptoms of macular disease”

Waiting room
Healthcare professionals and the public lack awareness about the most common form of sight loss in the UK, a new study has claimed.

Published in BMJ Open Ophthalmology, the study highlighted that delays in diagnosing patients with macular disease was due to both patients and professionals being unaware of the significance of symptoms.

It also highlighted that many patients did not understand the urgency of needing to seek help, while delays for appointments, failure to diagnose and communicating a diagnosis of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) during initial consultations were also referenced.

The findings have been taken from a Patient-reported reasons for delay in diagnosis of age-related macular degeneration: a national survey entitled paper by Alice Parfitt. The paper reports on a study performed by researchers at Royal Holloway, University of London in collaboration with ophthalmologist Winfried Amoaku and in partnership with the Macular Society.

It focuses on the experiences of over 600 members of the Macular Society over the age of 50 who were diagnosed with AMD after August 2008 when treatment for wet AMD became available on the NHS.

The study found that only one third of respondents could detect symptoms of AMD, and 27% of patients whose initial appointment was delayed by more than a week had treatable AMD that required urgent intervention to avoid sight loss.

The study highlighted a need for better signposting to support services at diagnosis.

Professor of health psychology and head of the Health Psychology Research Unit at Royal Holloway, University of London, Clare Bradley, said: “Our findings highlight the urgent need to raise awareness of the symptoms of macular disease, and the need to seek urgent help from an optometrist or ophthalmologist as quickly as possible if symptoms are experienced.”

She emphasised that the study also highlights that “people are not being made fully aware of the advice and support that is available if they do have macular disease.”

“Someone with dry AMD in one eye may go on to develop wet AMD in the second eye. The dry AMD may also develop into wet AMD and require urgent treatment. People with AMD need to know how to monitor their condition to detect future problems in time for treatment to be effective,” she added.

Image credit: Macular Society