Through the eyes of a patient

Oct 01, 2008

In this month's issue, we take a look at the impact of eye disease from a patient's point of view.

In this month's issue, we take a look at the impact of eye disease from a patient's point of view. Specifically, we speak with Joseph Lovett, a documentary film-maker from the US, himself a glaucoma sufferer, who has been progressively losing his vision since his initial diagnosis 20 years ago. In order to help him come to terms with his vision loss, he relied on the advice and support of other people who had lost, or were losing their sight. The compelling stories that he heard prompted him to make a film - Going Blind. Expected to be completed early next year, Mr Lovett hopes that the film will not only urge sighted people to take regular eye examinations, but he also calls out to the ophthalmic community to understand the importance of support and education when their patients are dealing with such a harrowing condition. Mr Lovett provides some valuable insight into the thoughts and fears of somebody who is dealing with their sight loss. He also provides advice to the ophthalmic community on ways to help patients in a similar situation.

Also this month, we spoke with Mr Winfried Amoaku, Associate Professor and Reader & Honorary Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon at University Hospital, Queen's Medical Centre in Nottingham, UK, about the UK's decision to reimburse age-related macular degeneration (AMD) treatment, Lucentis. Mr Amoaku has been at the forefront of a campaign to overturn the decision of the UK healthcare watchdog (National Institute of Health & Clinical Excellence; NICE), which originally rejected the reimbursement of Lucentis; the only approved drug for AMD that has been shown to reduce and even reverse vision loss in patients. NICE has now agreed to the reimbursement of Lucentis in all eligible patients, under a dose-capping scheme (whereby Lucentis manufacturers Novartis also contribute to the cost of treatment once the number of doses exceeds a specified amount). However, NICE's two and a half year deliberations have condemned hundreds of patients in the UK to blindness. Now, if NICE were to compare the costs relating to disability-care for a person who has lost their vision to blindness, with the cost of Lucentis treatment, they would realize that their current cost-effectiveness model is flawed. The approval is of course great news for the thousands of patients in the UK who can benefit from treatment, but the delay has caused the unnecessary suffering of many people who have now irreversibly lost their vision.

If you would like to discuss this, or any other issue raised in this month's issue, why not join our discussion forum at http://www.oteurope.com/forum

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