• If you are unfortunate enough to suffer from a chronic eye disease, such as macular degeneration, glaucoma or diabetic eye disease, you have probably encountered a long wait for follow up treatment.

    This is partly because chronic eye disease is not managed by GPs, but by the hospital and there are too few trained optometrists, to deal with the demand. The ophthalmology outpatients department is one of the busiest departments in a general hospital.

    Macular disease
    The advancement of medicine is also a factor of the delay. Prior to 2008, age related macular degeneration (ARMD – age related degenerative change of the macula, the area responsible for central vision), was not treatable. Now that the condition is treatable, there are more patients requiring follow up treatment.

    Follow up is nearly always indefinite. The danger for patients however, if they are not treated in good time, is that there is only a limited window of opportunity to treat ARMD, before irreversible damage occurs, which may result in permanent loss of central vision.

    Glaucoma is a condition which you have likely heard of but know little about. It occurs when the intra ocular pressure rises, leading to loss of vision. It can be difficult to diagnose early because there are few warning signs and the condition is often diagnosed incidentally by an optician during a routine examination for glasses or lenses. Often a person only realises there is a problem when they notice visual field loss. By that time the condition may have reached an advanced stage.

    Once the diagnosis has been made, it is essential that the condition is monitored to prevent any further loss of vision. When patients are referred to an eye specialist with suspicion of glaucoma, they tend to be seen fairly quickly due to the risk of heavy financial penalties if waiting time targets are not met. However there are no such waiting time targets after the initial appointment and so any delay tends to occur after the initial appointment. Patients are at risk of losing their vision if the wait for follow up is excessive.

    Diabetic eye disease
    With the rise of patients being diagnosed with diabetes, comes the inevitable rise of patients suffering from diabetic related eye disease. Patients diagnosed with diabetes, should receive monitoring of their sight as a matter of course. However often they are not being seen within an appropriate timeframe, and they risk progression of the disease and potential blindness. Having to deal with loss or reduced vision is difficult enough but is particularly hard to bear when it could have been prevented.

    Update to information

    Brachers no longer acts on behalf of medical negligence claimants. We apologise for any inconvenience. If we have help with any other queries then please do get in touch.

    This content is correct at time of publication

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