Virtual events raise awareness during Macular Week

11 June 2021

A campaign to raise awareness of a disease that robs people of their central vision launches this week as a North West ophthalmology service teams with a sight loss charity to host online events.

Practice Plus Group, which runs the NHS North West Ophthalmology Service, has joined with national sight loss charity the Macular Society, to raise awareness of the UK’s biggest cause of sight loss, which affects 1.5 million people nationwide. The events form part of national Macular Week, which runs from 21 to 27 June.John O’Brien

Geraldine Hoad, research manager at the Macular Society, will talk about the disease and the charity’s latest research at the events which take place online from 22 to 25 June.

The event will give participants the opportunity to ask questions about the disease while learning more about the North West Ophthalmology Service, which is rated as ‘Outstanding’ by the Care Quality Commission.

Yorkshire regional manager for the Macular Society Joanne Reader said: “The impact of macular disease is massive. It steals your sight, your confidence and your ability to do the things you love. There is only one way to beat macular disease for good: we must fund much more research now, until we find a cure, or find treatments that stop it in its tracks.

“In 2020 alone, we funded more than £1.2million of research into macular disease. 1,500 people joined our online conference and clinics and our advice service dealt with over 18,000 calls and emails. We have also had 3,000 telephone and video conference calls with people living with the condition. But it’s not enough. The only way to beat macular disease for good is to fund the research that finds a cure.”

Joanne added: “Every day, more and more people are diagnosed with macular disease. In fact, the number of older people living with the condition is set to double in the next 20 years.

“Providing patients with a mobile treatment facility like this is brilliant. Not only does it make the service much more accessible, crucially, it reduces the time between diagnosis and treatment, and will help alleviate some of the pressure on other NHS eye clinics too.”

The North West Ophthalmology Service offers NHS patients, suspected of having Wet AMD, a 72-hour pledge, from the time they are referred to the service by their GP or optician to confirmed diagnosis and the start of treatment. This compares to the two-week window set by the Royal College of Ophthalmology.

Service director for the Practice Plus Group Ophthalmology Service John O’Brien sees the mobile service benefiting those with Wet AMD. He said: “This much quicker pathway, from diagnosis to the first appointment and injection, can reduce the level of sight loss.

“The service’s three mobile units- currently operating across Yorkshire, Lancashire and Greater Manchester – will make such a difference to patients, as they won’t need to attend their eye clinic in the regional hospitals. The mobile clinics will be much more convenient and far less time consuming for patients and their carers.”