Five UK hospitals have started recruiting patients to the landmark MONARCH study which will assess the safety and efficacy of at-home self-testing for wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
This is the first time at-home eye tests have been trialed in the United Kingdom. It is hoped the study will drive significant financial and resource savings for the NHS.
Recruitment is underway at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast; James Paget University Hospital, Great Yarmouth; Moorfields Eye Hospital, London; the Royal Liverpool & Broadgreen University Hospital; and University Hospital Southampton.
The study aims to recruit 400 participants who will be provided with 3 different eye tests to carry out at home, comprising a paper-based booklet of reading tests and 2 apps that run on an iPod touch. Patients will be provided with equipment and support to do the 3 home eye tests weekly over a period of 1 to 2 years. Participants will attend their normal hospital check-up appointments, and the results of clinic tests will be compared with the results from the home eye tests.
Dr. Ruth Hogg from the Centre of Public Health at Queen's University Belfast and Co-Chief Investigator of the MONARCH study explained: "Injections for AMD have been very successful, with about half of patients retaining vision sufficiently good for driving. However, the burden on the NHS and patients has been considerable due to the need for frequent injections and intensive monitoring throughout the follow-up period."
"We urgently need to rethink how services are offered as the current setup is not sustainable,” she said.