by Dan Roberts
An empirical investigation* recently published in BMC Geriatrics suggests that patients being treated for the wet form of age-related macular degeneration (wAMD) expect to be worse off than the general population, even though they expect to live as long. Specifically, they look forward to a more significant deterioration of health with age, and they predict worse general health in their old age than their visually-healthy counterparts.
The investigation surveyed consecutive wAMD patients and their doctors in two ophthalmology centers. Demographics, clinical characteristics, and informal care utilization were included in the data. The extent, however, of the patients’ low vision rehabilitation experience, clinical education, or involvement in support systems was not included in the survey. Might the results be different for patients who benefit from such positive interventions?
It is sad and frustrating to hear, in spite of the success of anti-VEGF treatment for wAMD and the availability of a large compendium of amazing technology for the visually impaired, that some patients are still unnecessarily expecting a dismal future because of their visual condition. A major reason for that must be their lack of encouragement by eye care doctors, therapists, and caregivers to take advantage of the many available resources. That deficiency in care, whether it be a result of inadequate public and professional education or simple negligence, is inexcusable in this day of easily-accessible information.
The authors of the study wrote that their results “highlight the importance of including issues of long-term expectations in patient-clinician discussions in AMD care, to have a better knowledge and understanding of their perspective”. Those discussions must include introduction to the benefits of learning alternate functional skills and using the latest accessible technology. To do less is to severely limit the patient’s participation in a world that is quickly and effectively eliminating blindness as a functional disability.
*Subjective health expectations of patients with age-related macular degeneration treated with antiVEGF drugs. Márta Péntek, et al (BMC Geriatrics BMC series – open, inclusive and trusted 201717:233. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12877-017-0619-9© The Author(s). 2017