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Bayer Seminars Address Wet AMD Issues

Wet AMD patients and carers often ‘battled on’, without letting clinical staff know how physically and emotionally difficult it was for them to live with the disease, a seminar series has revealed.

Bayer Australia rolled out a series of seminars across Australia after finding that such stoicism often made it difficult for support staff from ophthalmology clinics to properly understand their day-to-day needs and challenges.

Bayer’s educational seminar and training series took a holistic approach with five sessions that led support-staff from ophthalmology clinics around the country through a number of practical topics, such as the use of macula measurement technology and venepuncture techniques. The majority of presentations focused on patient realities looking at the world through the eyes of those living with wet AMD.

Andrea Montague, a registered nurse from Western Australia who attended the seminar, said the presentations reminded her how stressed patients are when they come into the clinic. “It showed me how important it is to understand how patients feel in the clinic and at home to be able to help them manage their life as best as we can.”

It showed me how important it is to understand how
patients feel.

“Vision impairment has a psychological impact that is often underestimated,” explained Carey-Ann Jackson, a psychologist from Inservio, who presented on depression and AMD. “Patients often feel embarrassment and shame in social situations, for example when they can’t read a menu in a restaurant or don’t recognise people on the street. Experiences like these can lead to isolation or depression.”

Dr. David Mann, a dietician with over 30 years’ experience in aged care, highlighted the same issues in his presentation about nutrition and eye health. “AMD patients often feel as if they have no control over
their condition. Educating them about how they can influence their disease progression with the right diet can empower them and help them take an active role in managing their condition.”

Julie Heraghty, CEO of Macular Disease Foundation of Australia, who also presented at the seminars, said taking a closer look at what life is like for these Australians highlights the importance of a holistic approach to care. “If we all work together we can provide the physical and emotional support both patients and carers need.

“The Foundation is also here to support the important work clinical staff do. We can provide them with the latest information on the disease and insights from patients and carers as well as a place to refer patients to so they don’t feel alone once they leave their care,” said Ms. Heraghty.

The feedback from over 200 participants has been extremely positive. Adelaide participant and registered nurse, Julie Paley, said the seminar’s fresh approach was extremely beneficial. “As part of the seminar, we had to wear glasses demonstrating the impact of wet AMD.

“I had no idea that something as small as signing a document would be so difficult. The experience has made me more compassionate and I will now be sure to take more time to support our patients.”

Following the success and based on the feedback from participants, Bayer is currently developing the series further for 2015.