Free treatment hope for AMD sufferers

PUBLISHED: 09:12 08 April 2008 | UPDATED: 21:41 15 June 2010

A HONITON woman, who suffers from a degenerative eye condition, is crossing her fingers that free treatment will soon be available on the NHS thanks to new recommendations.

A HONITON woman, who suffers from a degenerative eye condition, is crossing her fingers that free treatment will soon be available on the NHS - thanks to new recommendations.Anne Dunn, 71, of Heathfield, suffers from age-related macular degeneration (AMD) but, because the condition has only affected one eye, Devon Primary Care Trust will not pay for treatment.The condition is the commonest cause of irreversible blindness in developed countries.Mrs Dunn, well known in the town for her role as chairman of Honiton Craft Club, has spent £4,600 on a total of five injections to stop the condition from getting any worse.That treatment has now stopped - because she's run out of money.Free treatment could be made available from June. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has published its final appraisal document on medication for AMD, meaning patients could soon receive the sight-saving drug Lucentis on the NHS."I've written to Angela Browning," said Mrs Dunn."In total, my husband and I have spent £4,600 on five injections, with the prospect of more. Some people only need one to three injections. I have been treated with Avastin, not Lucentis, but a favourable decision from NICE would definitely be good news."Mrs Dunn added: "I can't afford any more treatment. I'm waiting with interest to see when it will be free."A spokesperson for Devon PCT said: "The final NICE guidance is expected to be issued in June, after which time all PCTs will be expected to adopt the finalised NICE guidance."Steve Winyard, of the Royal National Institute for the Blind, said: "Today we move a step closer to achieving justice for 19,000 patients in England and Wales who develop wet AMD each year. Countless patients have either been robbed of their sight, or stripped of their life savings to pay for treatment."The Herald is aware of sufferers in Honiton considering selling equity in their homes to raise cash for treatment.

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