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Blind tennis, cooking classes and artwork: taking a holistic approach to AMD

An event on 14 October celebrated five years of the AMD clinic at Amersham Hospital

dough and hands
Getty/VioletaStoimenova

An event on 14 October celebrated the pioneering work of Amersham Hospital’s age-related macular degeneration (AMD) clinic since it was established five years ago.

Consultant ophthalmologist and joint leader of the Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust macular, retinal and vitreoretinal service, Mr Mandeep Bindra, explained at the event that when he started his ophthalmology career 18 years ago, patients with AMD were told that they would lose their sight because of limited treatment options.

However, the management of AMD has evolved over time.

“Now we can prevent patients from losing their eyesight. We have revolutionised the way we are treating patients,” Bindra emphasised.

He noted that both patients and staff have had a say in how the service has developed over time.

“We say that everyone who comes to work in our macular degeneration service is part of one family… Everyone feels like they can have a say in the service – this is why we improve,” Bindra said.

Bindra noted that when he first started working with the trust, all intravitreal injections were performed by ophthalmologists – but now nurses perform 90% of injections.

“We want to train as many people as possible to do the work that can be taken away from the consultants. It really has been a complete team effort,” he said.

Ultimately we want to make the lives of people with macular degeneration better

Optometrist Denise Voon

Principal optometrist at the Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, Denise Voon, highlighted that the department hoped to empower patients and their families by increasing their understanding of AMD. She added that this helped to reduce patient anxiety.

Initiatives pioneered by the clinic include cooking classes that outline the role of nutrition in eye health, and visually impaired tennis classes.

Staff also started conversations around mental health, and an artwork was commissioned for the clinic that can be appreciated by those living with sight loss.

Voon shared that in the five years since the clinic was established there have been more than 50,000 appointments, with 41,000 injections performed.

“Ultimately we want to make the lives of people with macular degeneration better,” she highlighted.

Chief executive officer of the Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, Neil Macdonald, shared that the team working within the age-related macular degeneration clinic have much to be proud of.

“It’s one of the huge privileges of this job to work with people who have the energy, ideas and vision to do something differently,” he emphasised.