What to Know About Telehealth for Wet AMD

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Wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a chronic eye condition that creates a blind spot in the visual field or blurry vision. Although in-person visits are important for eye exams and treatments, you may be able to do follow-up appointments and check-ins through telehealth, which is a way to receive healthcare services remotely through various communication technologies.

Patient in an online telehelath consultation with a male doctor

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Telehealth and COVID-19

With the spread of COVID-19, telehealth has become an attractive alternative to in-person healthcare appointments. While healthcare offices and clinics are taking measures to keep staff and patients safe, refraining from going to public places—unless necessary—is a good practice during a pandemic.

When to Use Telehealth for Wet AMD 

Telehealth services allow you to use a computer, smartphone, or tablet to connect with a healthcare provider online. You may have a video or phone call. If you have wet AMD, a virtual visit can help you stay in touch with your doctor between treatment appointments to manage the condition.

Part of managing wet AMD is tracking your vision with an Amsler grid at home. The black and white grid allows you to check if your vision is getting worse so you can tell the eye doctor. You can mark the areas on the grid you cannot see.

Telehealth is also useful if you have questions about wet AMD or want to discuss symptoms. You are able to email, message, or text the doctor online to get answers quickly.

When you have a telehealth visit, you can:

  • Ask questions about wet AMD
  • Discuss new or worsening symptoms
  • Talk about the results of using the Amsler grid at home
  • Talk about your treatment
  • Discuss lifestyle changes and supplements for your eyes
  • Decide with your doctor if you need an in-person appointment

You May Need to Be Seen in Person If…

Wet AMD requires in-person appointments to do an eye exam and receive treatment. Since wet AMD is a chronic condition that can get worse over time and increases your risk of blindness, it requires frequent monitoring that cannot be done completely at home.

You may need an in-person visit to have:

  • Eye exams
  • OCT (optical coherence tomography) scans
  • Injections of an anti-VEGF drug into your eyes
  • Fittings for low vision devices and aids

Benefits and Challenges

The benefits of telehealth visits for people with wet AMD include:

  • Not having to travel for an appointment
  • Not having to waste time in a waiting room at a doctor's office
  • Potentially saving money on insurance copays
  • Being able to talk to your eye doctor online more frequently
  • Being able to get answers to your questions faster
  • Having a lower risk of exposure to COVID-19 by avoiding a doctor's office

The challenges of using telehealth include:

  • Not having access to a computer, tablet, or smartphone
  • Lacking reliable internet
  • Not knowing how to use the telehealth services
  • Not having a good camera or audio on your device
  • Concerns about privacy
  • Not having an eye exam or other procedures at home
  • Concerns about coverage for insured and uninsured patients

How to Prepare for a Telehealth Visit for Wet AMD

To get ready, you should ask the healthcare providers how they plan to do the telehealth visit and what you need for the appointment. Most doctors will send you information to help you prepare. 

As you prepare, you can:

  • Write a list of questions.
  • Prepare the results of your Amsler grid.
  • Fill out your paperwork online.
  • Set up the device you plan to use for the appointment.
  • Find a good spot that is quiet, private, and has enough light.
  • Test your device and camera.
  • Download apps, software, and programs you need for the telehealth visit.

Will Insurance Cover Telehealth for Wet AMD?

Telehealth visits are not free, but many health insurance plans and Medicare cover telehealth visits. Some have expanded coverage because of COVID-19, so you should check your plan. In addition, Medicaid has coverage for live video visits. Private-pay services are an option if you do not have insurance.

What Happens During the Visit

During the telehealth visit for wet AMD, your eye doctor will ask questions about your symptoms and the results of the Amsler grid. You will also talk about your medications, supplements, eye drops, and other treatments. Your eye doctor will decide if you need an in-person appointment for an exam or treatment.

A Word From Verywell

Wet AMD may lead to blindness, so it is important to maintain all of your scheduled eye doctor appointments in person and online. Telehealth can help you manage this condition and give you easier access to doctors.

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Article Sources
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  1. American Academy of Ophthalmology. Telemedicine for management of wet AMD.

  2. Starr MR, Barkmeier AJ, Engman SJ, Kitzmann A, Bakri SJ. Telemedicine in the management of exudative age-related macular degeneration within an integrated health care system. Am J Ophthalmol. 2019;208:206-210. doi:10.1016/j.ajo.2019.03.021

  3. Andonegui J, Aliseda D, Serrano L, et al. Evaluation of a telemedicine model to follow up patients with exudative age-related macular degeneration. Retina. 2016;36(2):279-284. doi:10.1097/IAE.0000000000000729