Researchers are investigating whether the burden on the NHS could be alleviated by enabling wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) patients to monitor their vision at home.
Queen’s University of Belfast and University of Bristol scientists are recruiting 400 participants from five UK hospitals.
They will be provided with the equipment and support to do three home eye tests weekly over a period of one to two years.
The tests involve a paper-based booklet of reading tests as well as two app-based tests that run on an iPod touch.
Study participants will continue to attend their normal hospital check-up appointments and the results will be compared with the home test results.
Dr Ruth Hogg, from the Centre of Public Health at Queen’s University Belfast, explained that injections for AMD have been successful, with about half of patients retaining sufficient vision for driving.
“However, the burden on the NHS and patients has been considerable due to the need for frequent injections and intensive monitoring during the follow-up period,” she said.
Dr Hogg added that in Belfast, evening and weekend clinics have been added, but it is still not enough to cater for demand.
“We urgently need to rethink how services are offered as the current setup isn’t sustainable,” she emphasised.