Wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration: Why See a Specialist?
Wet age-related macular degeneration, or wet AMD, is a chronic eye disorder in which abnormal blood vessels leak fluid or blood into the macula, part of the retina of the eye. This causes symptoms like blurred vision and blind spots, which may appear suddenly and worsen quickly. That’s why all wet AMD patients should follow unique treatment plans tailored to their specific needs. But your primary care doctor may not have all the information you need to manage your wet AMD successfully. That’s where specialists come in: a wet AMD specialist, called an ophthalmologist, has the right skills and insight to help you stay in control of your condition. Here’s why:
1. An ophthalmologist completes extensive training in wet AMD and is an expert in wet AMD care.
An ophthalmologist is a physician who specializes in treating diseases related to the eyes and vision. Ophthalmologists are medical doctors, unlike their optometrist and optician counterparts. Because the eyes are complex structures, ophthalmologists must train extensively to master this area of study. An ophthalmologist will have expertise in treating wet AMD and other conditions related to your eyes and vision.
All doctors complete a training program called a residency after they finish medical school. At the end of this period, graduates can take an exam to become board-certified ophthalmologists. But retinal specialists receive considerable training beyond that. Ophthalmologists who specialize in treating wet AMD spend several additional years in a vitreoretinal fellowship, during which they train under experienced ophthalmologists and focus on patients with wet AMD and similar conditions affecting the eyes. Look for a doctor who is board certified in ophthalmology and you’ll know you’re seeing an expert.
2. An ophthalmologist never stops learning about wet AMD.
To maintain their board certifications, ophthalmologists must keep up with new developments in their field. They must complete continuing education and renew their licenses every few years, depending on the state in which they practice and other factors. By following these requirements, board-certified ophthalmologists stay on top of new treatments and discoveries about the mechanisms involved in wet AMD, so they can then provide their patients with insightful, informed, and up-to-date treatment plans.
3. An ophthalmologist has extensive experience in treating wet AMD.
Ophthalmologists see a higher volume and concentration of patients with wet AMD, and thus are more experienced in treating the condition successfully. Because of this experience, they can add real-world knowledge of the disease to their academic and clinical training. They’re able to assess how well patients respond to certain treatments, have a deeper understanding of how wet AMD progresses over time, share insight about effectively implementing lifestyle changes, and recognize symptoms that a general practitioner may miss, among other skills.
4. An ophthalmologist is a team player.
Ophthalmologists work with teams of other health care providers who treat patients with wet AMD and can connect patients with optometrists, vision therapists, nurse practitioners, and other providers who support wet AMD management. Working with a team can help patients address all aspects of the disease and improve outcomes.
5. It’s easy to find the right ophthalmologist for you.
There are thousands of ophthalmologists in the United States, so how do you know which is the right doctor for you? By searching on Healthgrades.com, you can identify the best ophthalmologist to help you manage your wet AMD successfully.