As the leading cause of blindness among people over 50 years, macular degeneration is a global, debilitating disease that demands our attention. Although we have highly effective therapies for wet age-related macular degeneration (nAMD), undertreatment of these patients is now an emerging issue, and we still await an effective treatment for dry age-related macular degeneration. And like macular degeneration, other diseases of the macula – diabetic macular oedema (DMO), and retinal vein occlusion (RVO) – are on the rise.
To coincide with Macular Disease Foundation Australia’s (MDFA) Macula Month, this issue is all about macular disease, beginning with our lead news story on Optometry Australia’s hopes to engage the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmology on the topic of optometrists delivering anti-VEGF therapy for the treatment of nAMD, DMO, and potentially, RVO. While acknowledging that this isn’t something for everyone and neither is it ‘just around the corner’, the Association is firmly of the opinion that it’s time to start talking about potential delivery models (eg. collaborative and remotely supervised) that could be introduced. Yes, patient treatment plans are increasingly individualised, however they say optometrists can be equipped to implement these plans with training, support, and by embracing sophisticated imaging technologies that can help identify biomarkers and other features predictive of disease progression. On top of that, we have emerging artificial intelligence-based software to guide treatment decision making… and plenty of international studies evidencing the success of optometrists and nurses providing injection therapy overseas.
This issue, in a departure from the norm, we bring you the patient perspective of a man from regional NSW who lives with Charles Bonnet Syndrome (CBS). Although Chris Hansen’s CBS was triggered by an anaphylactic attack during heart surgery, his story fits well in our macular disease issue as macular degeneration is the biggest risk factor for this much-misunderstood condition. Chris’ story is fascinating, providing insights into living with CBS that you simply wouldn’t find in clinical literature. I hope you find it as interesting as we did, and that you can use the information to inform and help patients.
Thank you to all the contributors for this issue, and in particular to the team at MDFA who helped initiate many of the articles. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to contact MDFA to request resources and get behind the Foundation’s 2021 macula awareness campaign.