Learn about the different people who play a role in your wet AMD treatment, management and care.
When you first begin wet AMD treatment, it can be hard to remember which healthcare professionals you’ve interacted with and who to contact if you have questions. Your eye care team usually includes a number of professionals who provide support. In this article, we explore who those professionals are and what role each of them play in your wet AMD treatment.
An optometrist is a specialist who provides regular eye care. Optometrists conduct annual eye exams, diagnose eye conditions and manage prescriptions for eyeglasses, contact lenses and other visual aids. Optometrists do not typically manage wet AMD care, but if they feel you might have the condition, they will refer you to an ophthalmologist.1
Ophthalmologists specialize in surgical procedures, although they may also perform annual eye exams and manage prescriptions.1 If your ophthalmologist suspects you have wet AMD they will perform a dilated eye exam and an optical coherence tomography (OCT) exam to determine your diagnosis.2 To learn more about OCT exams, click here.
A retina specialist is an ophthalmologist who is trained specifically in the diagnosis and treatment of retinal diseases. You will likely be referred to a retina specialist if your ophthalmologist determines you have a condition impacting your retina, like wet AMD.3 Retina specialists conduct investigations and provide a diagnosis for those with retinal concerns, and they can administer anti-VEGF injections for patients with wet macular degeneration.3,4 You will visit a retinal specialist for all of your wet AMD injections, and it will be important to update them if you experience any complications following treatment.4
Ophthalmic nurses assist ophthalmologists with eye exams, record symptoms reported by patients and help perform investigative tests. They also perform physical exams to help rule out, or uncover, supplementary health concerns.5
An ophthalmic nurse will be present before, during and after your anti-VEGF injection and is a critical part of the patient education and preparation process. In addition to administering eye drops to numb the eye before an injection, an ophthalmic nurse explains aftercare details to patients and their caregivers.5
Therapists and social workers
A wet AMD diagnosis can significantly impact mental health. The loss of independence and number of ophthalmology appointments may be jarring, but this is where mental health professionals can help. If you are struggling with your wet AMD diagnosis, reach out to a licensed therapist, social worker or mental health counsellor for support. If you are unsure of how to find a mental health provider, speak with your ophthalmologist or primary care provider for a recommendation. Also there is support available via the National Council for the Blind Ireland and Fighting Blindness here.
Primary care provider or General Practitioner
A primary care provider is your main health care resource in non-emergency situations. While this person won’t play much of a role in your actual wet AMD treatment, they should be kept up to date on medical procedures you have undergone, such as anti-VEGF injections. They can also help refer you to specialists when needed.
Lockett E. Optometrist Vs. Ophthalmologist: Choosing Your Eye Care Provider. [online] Healthline. 2020. Available at https://www.healthline.com/health/eye-health/optometrist-vs-ophthalmologist#optician. Accessed October 2020.
Dunaief, J. Injections For Wet Macular Degeneration: What To Expect. [online] BrightFocus Foundation. 2020. Available at https://www.brightfocus.org/macular/article/injections-wet-macular-what-expect. Accessed October 2020.
American Society of Retina Specialists. What Is A Retina Specialist? Available at https://www.asrs.org/patients/what-is-a-retina-specialist. Accessed October 2020.
American Society of Retina Specialists. Intravitreal Injections. Available at https://www.asrs.org/patients/retinal-diseases/33/intravitreal-injections. Accessed October 2020
RegisteredNursing.org. Ophthalmic Nurse. Available at https://www.registerednursing.org/specialty/ophthalmic-nurse/. Accessed October 2020.