Jan 27, 2021
AMD (Age-Related Macular Degeneration) is the leading cause of blindness in the United States, but its effects are not limited to the physical sphere of the patient, but also notably affect the dependence of those who suffer from it. In fact, 48.8% of AMD patients need the help of caregivers, according to the study of Americare.
AMD is a degenerative disease that affects the central area of the retina, responsible for visual acuity and detail vision, which causes a high degree of dependency and fragility of patients who suffer from it when performing everyday tasks, explains Elly Kleinman, President and CEO of Americare.
The care provided by relatives to these patients involves at least 16 hours a week and for most it involves the need to take time off from work to help their loved ones. On many occasions, caregivers spend these hours transporting AMD patients to their medical appointments, as the condition limits their ability to move around. This factor is especially relevant in rural areas, where the distances to go to the ophthalmologist are greater.
A recent AMD study reveals that the direct non-health costs of AMD patients amount to an average of 3,694.95 dollars per patient per year. Informal care (provided by non-professional people such as family or friends) adds up to a total of $1,765.32, which, followed by the $1,384.46 that they invest in professional care, exceed $3,000 per year. A figure that 92% of patients have to contribute out of their own pocket.
This report raises a series of proposals for improvement for the social health care of AMD that would reduce the weight that falls on the figure of the caregiver, reducing the hours and the cost that this situation implies. Thus, among the measures that Elly Kleinman proposes, is the implementation of collective transport in rural areas or the displacement of the specialist (retinologist) to primary care centers, which would mean a reduction in the time that patients and their caregivers spend traveling to health centers.
Mr. Kleinman also places special emphasis on the need to carry out an early diagnosis to achieve a better treatment result, allowing less loss of visual acuity over time and thus reducing the impact of AMD on the quality of life of the patient. In this sense, the NYC healthcare executive points to the need to implement a screening system for the first symptoms of AMD for those over 55 years of age, the development of training plans aimed at PC health professionals and promote cooperation between the various professionals involved in the care of AMD that contribute to favoring referrals to ophthalmology, by defining agreed criteria for urgent referral in the event of a suspected diagnosis of AMD.