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Optoms urged to adopt 'ten pertinent points' by MDS.

OPTOMETRISTS are being urged to take up a charity's advice on handling patients with central vision loss.

The Macular Disease Society is hoping that practitioners will adopt "10 Pertinent Points" which encourage optometrists to give more information and to ensure that patients know where to go for support.

They are warned not to say, "nothing can be done". Instead practitioners are asked to inform patients that, although at present there is no medical or surgical treatment for dry macular disease, advancement of the condition can be prevented. "Advise on closer working distances and if appropriate discuss the possibility of a separate pair of high add reading spectacles to give improved flew of view over their main multi-focals," says the charity.

Macular Disease Society chief executive, Tom Bremridge, assembled the advice in response to feedback from patients and they have been sent to ophthalmologists and eye clinics.

He said that patients will adapt well to bad news if they are handled with compassion and offered effective support.

However, he warned: "If their initial experience is poor they are far more likely to suffer anger, resentment and depression which can lead to isolation and loss of serf confidence."

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When diagnosing suspected macular degeneration optometrists are advised to explain the difference between wet and dry macular disease and to tell the patient which type they believe they have. If wet macular disease, they are advised to explain about treatment options and where they are available.

Birmingham optometric adviser, Debbie Graham, commented: "Losing sight is a trauma for the patient and breaking the news can be emotionally draining for professionals as well. These points are a great helps."

Ms Graham said she agreed it was particularly important for optometrists to warn patients of what may be ahead including that dry MD can become wet MD and that some patients experience visual hallucinations (Charles Bonnet Syndrome).

The Macular Disease Society has also advised practitioners to give patients an emergency contact number and to emphasise the urgency of a sudden change.

"For wet MD do not go down the old route of referral to GP and preferably do not refer to a general hospital eye department," the charity warned.

"Wet MD patients need to reach a specialist medical retina clinic as soon as possible. Refer them according to the new guidance pathways for direct referral of MD in your area. Keep the GP informed but they do not need to see the patient. Liaise with your local ophthalmologists over referral criteria and pathways."

With relevant NICE guidance expected shortly for wet MD, optometrists are urged to advise the patient to call the charity's helpline on 0845 241 2041 before possibly embarking on private treatment.

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Title Annotation:NEWS; Macular Disease Society
Publication:Optometry Today
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jul 25, 2008
Words:450
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