Norwich hospital is paving the way in tackling UK’s leading cause of blindness

Pam Brown, who was diagnosed with wet AMD. Photo: NNUH

Pam Brown, who was diagnosed with wet AMD. Photo: NNUH - Credit: NNUH

It was on a Tuesday morning back in April 2016 when Pam Brown noticed something a little different about her vision.

The 78-year-old from Norwich closed her right eye to put on her make-up, and all she could see was an orange globe.

Three days later, she noticed the colour green on shrubs and trees looked slightly different and that she was feeling constantly tired and lethargic. That week,

Mrs Brown decided to call her opticians to relay her symptoms.

She said: 'The lady on the other end of the phone instructed me to go immediately to A&E.'

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Mrs Brown was diagnosed with the condition wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which is the leading cause for blindness in the UK.

It was then when she started receiving monthly injections to help preserve her vision.

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But at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH), she was asked whether she wanted to take part in a research study, called STAR - which aims to reduce or remove the need for ongoing eye injections

Mrs Brown said: 'For me, it was an easy decision. My great grandmother was blind, my grandmother and mother had glaucoma and my late sister had signs of glaucoma. I needed to think about my daughters' future and whether they might be affected.'

In December 2016, Mrs Brown went to London to participate in the study. She added: 'What happens now can improve the vision of future generations, and I was very willing and only too happy to help. I am very grateful to everyone I have met, and will continue to meet, during my STAR experience.'

Participants are in the study for two years, and are scheduled to visit the clinic three times in the first two months and then every month for the first two years.

For the remaining two years, participants will have two study visits, one at the end of the third year and one at the end of the fourth year. In between these two visits participants will attend the clinic to receive standard NHS care, as appropriate.

NNUH is recruiting participants with Wet AMD until December 2017.

If you or someone you know suffers with the condition and might be interested in taking part in the study or would like more information, please contact NNUH Ophthalmology Research Team on 01603 288870.

What is AMD?

AMD is an eye condition that causes a loss in central vision, where eyesight becomes increasingly blurred, and means reading becomes difficult, people's faces are difficult to recognise and colours appear less vibrant. Wet AMD develops when abnormal blood vessels form underneath the macula - the small area at the centre of the retina responsible for what we see straight in front of us - and damage its cells. Without treatment, vision can deteriorate within days.

NNUH is one of around 20 participating hospitals across the UK taking part in the studywhich involves a robotically-controlled system to deliver highly-targeted, low-dose radiotherapy to treat those with the condition. Aseema Misra, NNUH consultant ophthalmologist said: 'Wet AMD affects patients over 50 years old, and as Norfolk has a significantly older population, I feel it is very important we are involved in this research.'

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