A brand new machine designed to detect age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is being used to great effect. This machine has been so effective at detecting early AMD that one enthusiastic eye doctor in Wilmington, North Carolina, hopes it will be used in all annual eye screenings in the near future.
Dr. Edward Paul, a North Carolina doctor with offices in Wilmington, Raleigh, and Charlotte, has been using the AdaptDX machine since September of 2016 to help detect AMD as soon as possible. The AdaptDX test only takes seven minutes to complete and takes place in a simple darkened room. The machine first flashes an extremely bright light into the patient's eyes, a procedure officially known as "bleaching the retina." After the powerful flash of light fades, patients are asked to press a button every time they see small dots of light through the machine's lenses.
What this test is measuring is how long it takes a patient's eyes to re-adjust to the relatively darkened room. Doctors measure this in minutes using a system called "rod interpret" (RI). The average adjustment time is under 6 minutes. Any test that shows a score of 6.5 or higher indicates AMD.
Early detection of AMD is critical for quality eye care. According to Dr. Paul, nothing can be done to reverse the symptoms of AMD, but a great deal can be done to curtail the advance of the disease. Thankfully, the AdaptDX machine has been shown to accurately predict early stages of AMD 92 percent of the time.
Medicare does cover AdaptDX screenings for certain patients. To get coverage, patients have to meet at least three of the following criteria: Caucasian, overweight, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, trouble seeing at night, over 50, and/or a history of AMD in the family.
Dr. Paul told reporters that AMD is one of the most common eye disorders for older patients. People who develop AMD often have great peripheral vision, but their central vision is often clouded. The diagnosis of AMD is heartbreaking for older patients, and it's often accompanied with mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety.
People with AMD have trouble driving, reading, and even making out other people's faces. Four out of five patients diagnosed with AMD are considered functionally blind.
The AdaptDX was designed by the company Maculogix . Before releasing the AdaptDX to the public, Maculogix tested the device with over 1,000 patients in trials at Harvard University, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and the National Eye Institute.
The only treatment strategies eye doctors have for combatting AMD include special contact lenses, vitamin regimens, diet changes, and laser surgery. Unfortunately, all of these treatment methods are really only designed to halt the progression of the disease rather than fully cure it.
Although the AdaptDX screening isn't standard procedure, Dr. Paul is hopeful everyone over the age of 50 will get one done as a part of their routine eye exam. For those who don't fit any of the criteria for a covered AdaptDX screening, they can still purchase one.