The Don’t lose sight! Don’t delay! report forms part of the charity’s Save our Sight (SOS) campaign and highlights that the time taken from first contact, referral and diagnosis of AMD differs vastly, with 69% of cases failing to be diagnosed in the recommended seven days. However, 74% of patients had contact with a community optometrist within this period. Wet AMD can lead to sight loss within as little as three months.
Other findings in the report state that delays caused by GPs and optometrists not following their local referral procedures could be prevented; patients can be referred between the GP and optometrists unnecessarily; and over referral due to a lack of appropriate technology was an issue. In addition, 34% of patients felt there was a lack of information and support available to them during referral and diagnosis.
As a result, the charity is calling on community optometrists to follow their local rapid referral pathway to help prevent sight loss. It is also urging local commissioners to fund technology such as OCTs in the community to help optometrists and GPs identify potential wet AMD patients.
Optometrists can help prevent unnecessary sight loss of wet AMD patients by: making every contact count; ensuring patients understand that their referral is urgent; and knowing and using appropriate, local rapid referral pathways for the condition.
RNIB optometrist, Helen May said: “Optometrists play an important role in the community and can help to save the sight of many more wet AMD patients. It’s vital that patients get an urgent referral, diagnosis and treatment within the recommended 14 days guidance.
“We encourage optometrists to follow their local rapid referral guidelines when available, or use the fastest mode of referral if wet AMD is suspected.”