ON 16TH NOVEMBER 2017 AN INFORMATION MEETING WAS HELD AT THE POLYCLINIC “UMBERTO I” OF ROME
The degeneration of the “heart” of the retina (macula) is the primary cause of central blindness in advanced countries: it causes the distortion of images in the centre of the visual field, up to the appearance of “black holes” or blind spots (scotomas). At first, the lines on the floor or the squares on a sheet of paper look distorted at the point where the gaze is fixed; then face recognition, reading and driving can become difficult or even impossible.
This retinal disease, which generally affects people from around 55 years of age, being more prevalent in the over 75’s, is called Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD): it occurs more frequently if there are already other family cases, if a person is a smoker, if a varied and healthy diet is not followed and even if someone remains too exposed to the sun without using filters. All these are avoidable risk factors that can favour the onset and progression of a retinal pathology of which there are two forms: the wet or exudative form (considered treatable) and the more common variety, called dry or atrophic (considered untreatable).
THE ROMAN APPOINTMENT
On the afternoon of November 16th 2017, an informative meeting open to the public was held at the Polyclinic Umberto I of Rome, attended by around 200 people.
Participants of the conference have been able to book free eye examinations, that took place later (on 17th and 18th November same year) at the Ophthalmology Clinic of the same Polyclinic.
The aim of the initiative was to raise awareness in people of the importance of regular eye examinations: the retina is increasingly hit by degenerative diseases such as AMD in countries with an increasingly aging population like Italy. This is why the careful examination of an ophthalmologist is even more important.
During the presentation, the various forms of macular degenerations were explained in detail, underlining at the same time the importance of prevention (which can delay any onset), and of leading a healthy lifestyle.
There was no lack of controversy: “AMD is a social illness”, said Prof. Lia Giustolisi, organizer of the event and the person in charge of the Centre of macular degeneration at La Sapienza University. That’s why public institutions should pay greater attention to AMD. The professor of Ophthalmology at “La Sapienza University” added that with regard to such an important examination as the OCT (a kind of retinal CAT scan), “it is a folly that it hasn’t been included in the regional price list”. As if to say that people are paying unfairly from their own pocket the whole price of an examination which is vital for the diagnosis and evolutional study of a disease such as Age-related Macular Degeneration, considering that in developed Countries, around half the people who are affected by AMD do not know they have it. There was also some contention when it came to dealing with the thorny issue of the costs of intravitreal injections (anti-VEGF injected into the eyeball to inhibit the uncontrolled proliferation of harmful retinal vessels in the most severe form of AMD, the wet or exudative kind).
Source of reference: La Sapienza University