For the last few weeks, viewers have seen one of EastEnders' most beloved characters, Dot Branning, become increasingly isolated as her sight deteriorated.
Frightened and defiant, Dot refused to seek medical help until her kind friend Patrick convinced her to attend an appointment with her GP. On the Friday December 9 episode of EastEnders, it was revealed Dot has wet AMD (age-related macular degeneration) and will have to have injections to help treat her condition.
Unfortunately this is a situation many older people face, and not everyone has a good friend like Patrick to push them in the right direction towards getting the help they need.
If, like Dot, you have recently been diagnosed with AMD or macular degeneration, we have put together some information to help you better understand your condition, the treatment available and how to get the support you need to continue living your life independently and enjoy your favourite activities.
Our Helpline is your direct line to the support, advice, and products you need to face the future with confidence. If you or someone you know has a sight problem, our specialist advice workers can help.Contact Us
AMD causes changes to the macula, which leads to problems with your central vision, it doesn’t cause pain, and doesn’t lead to a total loss of sight.
AMD affects the vision you use when you’re looking directly at something, for example when you’re reading, looking at photos or watching television.
Our Understanding AMD guide is accredited by the the Royal College of Ophthalmologists.
It's designed to give you a detailed understanding of your eye condition and helpful advice on next steps.
There are two main types of age-related macular degeneration – ‘wet’ AMD and ‘dry’ AMD. They are called ‘wet’ and ‘dry’ because of what happens inside your eye and what the ophthalmologist sees when examining the inside of your eye, not because of how your eye feels or whether you have a watery or dry eye.
Wet and dry AMD have a few things in common. They usually affect both your eyes, though sometimes one eye may be affected long before the other. Both wet and dry AMD only affect your central vision and won’t affect your peripheral vision, so neither type of AMD will cause you to lose all your sight.
Dry AMD is the more common type of AMD. It develops very slowly and causes a gradual change in your central vision. Dry AMD usually takes a long time – sometimes years, to get to its final stage. At its worst, dry AMD causes a blank patch in the centre of your vision in both of your eyes. Currently there is no treatment for dry AMD.
About 10 to 15 per cent of people who develop age-related macular degeneration have wet AMD, often having had dry AMD to begin with. You develop wet AMD when the cells of the macula stop working correctly and your body starts growing new blood vessels to fix the problem. As these blood vessels grow in the wrong place, they cause swelling and bleeding – this is why it’s called ‘wet’ AMD. Wet AMD can develop very quickly, causing serious changes to your central vision in a short period of time. Treatment is available for wet AMD, which stops the new blood vessels from growing and damaging your macula. This treatment usually needs to be given quickly before the new blood vessels do too much damage to your macula. If the blood vessels are left to grow, the scarring and the sight loss they cause is usually permanent.
Dot was prescribed injections to treat her wet AMD, which is the treatment offered by the NHS. The injections contain a group of medications called anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF) drugs.
The medicine is injected in to the vitreous, the gel-like substance inside your eye.
Anti VEGF drugs work by stopping new blood vessels from growing, preventing further damage to your sight.
Following the episode in which Dot received her diagnosis of AMD, members of our Eye Health and Advice teams hosted a live Q&A on Facebook.
In recent episodes of EastEnders, Dot's sight loss has made her feel increasingly isolated. Unfortunately, this is an experience shared by many people as they begin to lose their sight.
In the next 15 minutes, someone in the UK will start to lose their sight. But without a sight loss adviser, they could be left to face the future in fear. Right now, only one in three UK eye departments offers this vital support.
RNIB believes this needs to change, which is why we are calling for a dedicated sight loss adviser in every UK eye department by 2019.
EastEnders legend Barbara Windsor was among the stars of stage and screen who have pledged their support, to help RNIB achieve this goal. Watch the video to find out how you can help.