The National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) have published new clinical guidance to improve care for people with suspected late stage age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
A key aim of the new guidance is to ensure that people who are at risk of losing their sight as a result of wet AMD are diagnosed earlier and get prompt access to treatments.
AMD causes changes to the macula, which leads to problems with central vision. Wet AMD is less common than Dry AMD but progresses more quickly, leading to serious changes to vision in a short period of time.
The NICE recommendations include a 14 day maximum waiting period between a patient’s referral to the macular service and them being offered anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF) drugs. Anti-VEGF treatment can prevent the abnormal growth of blood vessels in the eye which cause sight loss.
Helen Lee, Policy Manager for Eye Health at RNIB, said: “We welcome the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) clinical guideline for macular degeneration.
"The new guidance makes it clear that patients need to be urgently referred for treatment if they have suspected late wet AMD - something that RNIB argued for in the forming of the guidance. We know that currently some patients are not receiving treatment within 14 days or follow up treatment within the clinically recommended time due to capacity issues within eye care services.
"We're urging all Clinical Commissioning Groups to fully implement the guidance. We want them to adopt the best models of care for provision of wet AMD services, and effectively use the whole eye care workforce to ensure patients receive sight saving treatment on time. "