AMD: Better Outcomes Start with You
Paul M. Karpecki, OD, FAAO
Dr. Karpecki discusses the need for optometry to be more proactive in combating retinal diseases, such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) to preserve vision longer.
Optometry Needs to be Proactive in AMD diagnosis and management
Optometry needs to be proactive in combating retinal diseases. I know that sounds foreign because you think “Retina, that might be more the prevalence of a retina specialist” or something. But that’s not the case.
In fact, the earlier the diagnosis, the less chance of progression, the less chance of missing macular degeneration that could go to a wet form. And now we have treatments for that. We have to really revamp our entire system because what we knew 20 years ago is not what we know now.
AMD is a very manageable condition. We have to change our mindset, we have to be proactive, we have to help these patients, we have to prevent blindness and we can do it!
A Responsibility to Your Patients
We have a true responsibility to change our thinking and with that to focus on this disease, to identify patients, to help them in any way we can through various treatments, things that will slow down progression, early diagnosis.
Unlike glaucoma, which is a very slow progressing disease, you have time to collect your data and set your target pressures, there are patients that go blind quickly with macular degeneration. It’s important that we monitor them at the proper frequency. But that involves identifying them early. And the only functional test I know of to identify them early, that is quick and efficient, is AdaptDx.
AdaptDx Provides Early Insight
AdaptDx was the first functional test I could find that helps us not only to identify these patients but to identify them at such an early stage that we can really impact their lives. And now we can see patients at the proper frequency for macular degeneration. We were saying “I’ll see you in a year” and then they came back with wet macular degeneration in one eye. Now, we’re saying “We need to see you quarterly, we need to follow this, we should also get an OCT on you now.” So it became a precursor to identifying the disease to then helping these patients through the rest of their life.
Early Diagnosis of AMD is Critical
Early diagnosis is critical to almost every disease there is and that’s no exception with macular degeneration. AdaptDx helps us to gain that early diagnosis. It helps us then to know our management plan and to identify changes quicker. As opposed to the person who had no idea that it wasn’t normal aging to lose night vision or normal aging to not be able to adapt in a dark environment and who eventually has wet macular degeneration and goes blind.
We now have the tool that can help us identify these patients, structure our entire management plan and most importantly help patients from going blind.
Better Practices. Less Blindness.
The result is our practices do better: We’re appropriately seeing them, we’re increasing the frequency of exams for the patients who need it, we’re managing OCTs and other things that are required in the right patients.
We’re getting patients who are telling their friends and family: “This doctor understands this disease and that’s who you need to see.” And that’s growing our practice. And those are wonderful results.
But the real reason why we do is to impact these patients lives. To prevent every one of them, just like it was our mother or father, from going blind. If we had the ability to do that, wouldn’t we do it? Well, we have that ability today in the world of macular degeneration.