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What to expect following a wet AMD diagnosis.

If your GP or optometrist suspects that you have wet AMD, according to guidelines by The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), you should be referred to an eye specialist within one working day and, if the diagnosis is confirmed, receive treatment within two weeks[i]. This is because wet AMD can progress quickly[ii], with vision getting worse over a short period of time, sometimes in days or weeks.

Although there is no cure for wet AMD[iii], the progressive worsening of vision can be slowed and sometimes even improved with consistent and effective treatment[iv]. Most people are treated with an anti-VEGF that is injected into the eye. Trained healthcare professionals including ophthalmologists and specialist ophthalmic nurses will carry out these treatments.

For more information on your wet AMD diagnosis, what it means and what happens next, click here.

How to prepare for hospital appointments?

To help you to best prepare to attend hospital appointments, visit your hospital website for the most up to date guidance. You can also speak to your eye care team about any concerns you may have. They will be able to explain how your appointment will run and how ongoing social distancing measures may affect your appointment.

"Every person’s journey with wet AMD is different, so it’s important to have the right information at the right time to help you have better conversations with medical professionals."

Take this short questionnaire to help you make the most of the time with your eye specialist. By completing the questions, you can download a personalised discussion guide that you may wish to bring with you to your next appointment.

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What does a ‘typical’ treatment day look like?

A ‘typical’ treatment day may vary, but the majority of people with wet AMD are treated at hospital, in a designated injection room.

Information about the procedure[v]:

  • Injections are administered by trained and qualified healthcare professionals.
  • Once in the room, you will be asked to recline on a chair or couch, to ensure you are in a comfortable position while your head is back and eyes facing upward.
  • The eye is examined, to check that an injection is needed. If it is, the procedure may take place on the same day, or you may be asked to return.
  • The treated eye is held open with a device called a speculum and anaesthetic drops are used to numb the eye. You’ll be asked to look to one side and the injection is given in the opposite corner of the eye – this process takes a few seconds.
  • For many people, the injection is a painless procedure, but some say the injection can cause discomfort and pain – either during the procedure, or afterwards. Very occasionally, there are more severe reactions. Please refer to a product’s patient information leaflet for a full summary of potential adverse reactions.
  • How often you will need to have injections will be determined by your eye specialist. Make sure you ask your eye care team how often you are expected to attend hospital appointments for eye injections.

If you are worried about the injections, the Macular Society provide a Treatment Buddy Service where you can speak with others who have had injections for support and advice.

COVID-19 and keeping safe during your appointments

Hospitals and eye clinics across the country are continuing to apply a range of safety measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and keep you safe during your appointment. Many hospitals are asking patients to attend appointments alone unless you need a carer and arrive no more than 15 minutes ahead of your appointment. For more information on hospital visits and rules regarding COVID-19, visit your hospital website. You may also find this article helpful.

What happens after your hospital visit?

Ongoing monitoring of your eye health is critical when you live with wet AMD.  Your eye care team will regularly monitor the progression of your wet AMD – this may take place at hospital, in the community setting, or even virtually – via telephone and video consultations. Virtual consultations were first introduced pre-pandemic, but increased in frequency during lockdown periods. They continue to be run in many areas, as they proved to be overall successful, saving time and increasing convenience for people living with wet AMD, as well as relieving some pressure on health services. Virtual appointment processes are still being formalised and may not be the same for each NHS Trust. Speak to your eye clinic to find out what their ongoing retina health monitoring processes are.

It is also important that you monitor your eye health at home and let your eye care team know of any changes in your vision. For tips on how to do so, you may find this article useful.

If you have any concerns or would like to speak to someone, you can call the Macular Society Advice and Information Service Monday – Friday from 9am to 5pm on 0300 3030 111 or email [email protected]

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[i] NICE guidance. Age-related macular degeneration. Available at: https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng82/resources/agerelated-macular-degeneration-pdf-1837691334853. Last accessed November 2021.

[ii] NICE guidance. Age-related macular degeneration. Available at: https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng82/chapter/Context. Last accessed November 2021.

[iii] All About Vision. Macular degeneration: Prevention and risk factor reduction. Available at: https://www.allaboutvision.com/en-gb/conditions/amd-prevention/. Last accessed November 2021.

[iv] American Academy of Ophthalmology. Anti-VEGF treatments. Available at: https://www.aao.org/eye-health/drugs/anti-vegf-treatments. Last accessed November 2021.

[v] Macular Society. Treatments. Available at: https://www.macularsociety.org/diagnosis-treatment/treatments/. Last accessed November 2021.

Page-Specific Approval Code UK | December 2021 | 153594