Keeping an eye on your macula

The Australian Society of Ophthalmologists (ASO) is reminding people who require eye injections for retinal diseases such as wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic retinopathy, that it is vital to receive their regularly scheduled treatments, despite the COVID-19 crisis. Timely treatment is essential to avoid potentially irreversible eye damage.

“The use of intravitreal injections for retinal disease is one of the most important advancements in the history of ophthalmology.  90% of AMD sufferers maintain their vision in the long term because of this treatment. In diabetic retinopathy, eye injections improve vision in most people and reduce the risk of vision loss However, it is important to remember that these are very time dependent treatments.  Patients who miss injection appointments put themselves at greater risk of irreversible loss of vision” – Dr Shish Lal, Director, Australian Society of Ophthalmologists (ASO).

While ophthalmologists have continued to provide urgent treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic, many patients have been reluctant to attend appointments due to fears of contracting the virus.  “We acknowledge that that patients may be feeling worried or uncomfortable about attending appointments due to COVID-19,” Dr Lal said, “However, ophthalmologists, like the rest of the medical profession, are becoming increasingly concerned about the impact from people neglecting other medical conditions due to COVID-19.  In terms of AMD and diabetic retinopathy, missing appointments may have devastating effects on vision and quality of life.”

Ophthalmologists are urging Australians with the need for urgent eye treatment to keep their appointments. If there are any concerns, people should feel free to contact their ophthalmologist’s clinic to discuss.

About Eye Injections for Wet AMD

“50% of all legal blindness in Australia is caused by AMD,” Dr Lal said.  ‘Until 2005 there was no effective treatment for wet macular degeneration.  At that time, on average, people started to lose vision within the first few months and, by the end of the first year, could see 3 less lines on the letter chart in the ophthalmologist’s office. Now, with regular injections, most patients can continue to enjoy everyday activities such as reading, watching TV and driving, that they would not otherwise have been able to do. These injections aren’t a cure – but they are very effective in halting further progression of the disease so long as they are done in a timely manner.”

About Eye Injections for Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic eye disease affecting the macula is the most common cause of vision loss in people with diabetes. Eye injections are the most important treatment for diabetic macula disease. On average, with treatment, people will see 2 more lines on the vision chart by the end of the first year. It is vital that the treatments are not delayed.

Dr Shish Lal in an ophthalmologist in Sydney with specific interests in macular degeneration and cataract surgery. He is a board member of the Australian Society of Ophthalmologists.

The Australian Society of Ophthalmologists is Australia’s peak medico-political ophthalmic body, fighting for the rights of patients in both public and private health sectors.  For further information visit www.asoeye.org.

Dr Shish Lal is available for interview

For further information, please contact Sally Symonds, Manager, Media & Communications ASO – 0417 727 625

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