Age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the eye disease accountable for the most vision loss amongst the global aged population, can make everyday life difficult for many patients. Screening for macular pigment optical density (MPOD) to detect AMD risk as early as possible is therefore vital, as this can maximise a patient’s chances of effective treatment and an improved quality of life as they grow older.
Eye care professionals should have a full understanding of the condition, the effect it can have on their patients and the potential treatments available.
With a wide range of information out there, we’ve rounded up some of the most useful resources to help you stay ahead of the curve. This will support you in implementing the most effective AMD healthcare and support within your practice.
1. Refresh your knowledge of AMD risk
Many people need not fall victim to AMD as, along with some non-modifiable risk factors, there are also modifiable risk factors which people can manage to minimise their risk.
A patient could be more at risk of AMD depending on their age, race, genetics and family history – all of which are non-modifiable risk factors.
However, modifiable risk factors for AMD include:
- Obesity and poor nutrition
- A lack of exercise
- Exposure to sunlight and blue light
- Low macular pigment, which can be managed via supplementation and other treatments.
By regularly screening for AMD risk and educating your patients about the risk factors, you can help them manage their own eye health and hopefully preserve their vision for longer. BrightFocus Foundation’s guide to AMD prevention and risk factors offers information to share with your patients, educating them about what they can and can’t control.
Read our whitepaper to learn which lifestyle factors can affect the development of AMD and how understanding them can help improve screening rates within your practice.
2. Invest in screening for AMD risk
As previously mentioned, regular screening for low macular pigment optical density (MPOD) is essential to help manage the condition, maximise the chances of effective treatment and ultimately preserve vision for as long as possible.
Cost is also a significant factor, with the global cost of vision loss reaching $343 billion in 2010, $255 billion of which was spent on direct healthcare. Investing in portable devices which will effectively detect whether a patient is at risk of blindness from AMD while keeping costs to a minimum is therefore crucial. Read more on how to ensure fast and affordable AMD screening in your practice in our related blog post.
Our cutting-edge MPS II provides quick and accurate screening for low MPOD, meaning you can detect AMD risk as early as possible. Learn more about screening for AMD risk with the MPS II in our comprehensive guide.
3. Educate your patients about AMD treatment
Currently, there is no cure for either kind of AMD – wet or dry. However, there are treatments which can manage the condition and mitigate the speed of its progression.
For dry AMD, there are several ways to help improve patients’ quality of life, such as using screen-readers, large-print books and magnifying lenses. Additionally, an increased intake of vitamins such as vitamin A (beta-carotene), C and E, lutein and zeaxanthin could help slow down the progression of dry AMD.
Discover how different nutritional plans, such as a low-glycaemic diet or a Mediterranean diet, can help protect against AMD. The Macular Degeneration Partnership’s AMD diet guide has some extra tips about which foods could help prevent AMD.
The two main treatments available to patients with wet AMD anti-VEGF injections or laser surgery, both invasive procedures which can be stressful for the patient.
For full details on how these treatments work, as well as names of all the kinds of medications used, the NHS has a clear guide outlining potential treatment options for AMD. This is also a useful resource when trying to explain treatment options to patients in a way which is easy to understand.
Additionally, understanding your patients’ stress could help ensure that AMD treatment is more likely to have a positive outcome. Read about reducing stress levels in the Harvard Health Stress Relief Guide.
4. Improve patient support
Being diagnosed with an eye disease can be a particularly challenging time for patients, and they are likely to be more prone to anxiety or depression as a result. For that reason, ensuring you can offer the right support to your patients is crucial.
The RNIB have an excellent guide to AMD, which can help patients to understand the condition. It also covers topics like recent diagnosis, living confidently and independently with AMD and treatment options. The sight loss charity also has plenty of downloadable resources to help patients with things such as emotional support, benefits and concessions, employment, leisure and money management.
Thomas Pocklington Trust has also published a wide range of resources to help support AMD patients. These include a guide on how to register as blind or partially sighted and a housing guide for people with sight loss.
Familiarising yourself with patient support guides means you can quickly provide your patients with the right assistance, to ensure they can manage their eye health. This improves your in-practice efficiency and helps patients feel in control of their prognosis.
Another charity which provides useful guides is the Macular Society, with information on diagnosis and treatment, low vision aids, visual hallucinations and much more. The conditions section of the site also has a range of useful guides on living with macular conditions.
5. Raise awareness of AMD
There are also events throughout the year which you can attend to learn more about AMD. You’ll also have the opportunity to hear from other like-minded eye care professionals and raise awareness and funds for eye health charities. Events include:
- Macular Week, which helps to raise awareness about AMD and its risk factors while fundraising for the Macular Society
- AMD Awareness Month, which is an annual initiative from the American Academy of Ophthalmology to raise awareness of AMD and the need for early screening
- Vitafoods Europe, an event showcasing top eye health supplementation products such as Kemin’s FloraGLO Lutein, and devices like the MPS II.
Events like these are an ideal way for eye care professionals to communicate with their patients about AMD and increase the rates of early screening.
Vision 2020 has an events page to help you keep up to date throughout the year.
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