Aged related Macular Degeneration (ARMD)
The macular is the most sensitive part of the retina (the screen) at the back of the eye where there is the highest density of light sensitive nerve cells. It is the one spot where our quality precision vision is supplied to the brain.† Losing some or all of these delicate cells will cause increasingly dramatic changes in our ability to see.
It is usually noticed later in life and its causes are dependent on the type (wet or dry) and sometimes are not found.† Wet ARMD (around 10%) is a fast progressive disorder created by excess fluid under the retina. Urgent referral, diagnosis and action by laser treatment are essential and can be partially successful in early stages. Dry ARMD is a slow developer caused by aging and failing nerve cells often in both eyes but not necessarily at the same time or speed. It is a painless and innocuous disorder often disguised by one good eye compensating for the bad one. Regular eyecare is essential in later life to spot this condition early.
Some experts consider that dry ARMD could be caused by a build up of oxidants over our lifetime which† could be reduced by eating food high in anti oxidants (see our Nutrition and ARMD†page for more details). A definite link to smoking and ARMD has been proven.†
Almost all ARMD sufferers retain some sight to help them get along in life so donít panic -†there are many professionals in place to help with differing levels of visual disability and to help you explain to your relatives and friends how best to deal with the lack of vision.
Wet AMD sufferers get the green light from NICE to help stave off blindness
NICE agrees after 2 years of consultation to allow Lucentis, the injected treatment to counter the onslaught of wet age-related macular degeneration.† This has come after NICE originally rejected the drug on a cost benefit basis.† An agreement has now been made with the drugs manufacturers Novartis that allows the NHS to provide the first 14 injections per patient and thereafter for Novartis to bear the cost burden.
A second drug, Macugen from Pfizer, was rejected as not cost-effective.†
"Lucentis is an expensive drug, costing more than 10,000 pounds for each eye treated. But that cost needs to be balanced against the likely cost savings," NICE Chief Executive Andrew Dillon said in a statement. On an interview with Radio 4ís Today program he expressed sadness that it had taken so long for this capping deal to have been made, during which time undoubtedly some suffers have lost their sight.† He stated that these were complex negotiations and that given the openness of the NICE organisation time must be given to all parties to raise objections.
NICE estimates that up to 14 shots should result in stable vision for most patients and improved vision for around a quarter of them.
This is great news for patients, those involved with treatment and those fighting for its full application after NICE, had decided that only a fifth of patients with AMD should get the drug.
Patients who have been refused this drug in the past are recommended to seek further urgent advice.
We believe that the decision will create a long term cost saving by reducing the longer term stay of patients in hospitals and convalescent homes as well as allowing people to remain within their own homes for longer.