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Improving access for everyone needing treatment for wet AMD

_MG_8641Improving access to essential treatments for wet age-related macular degeneration will be a key priority for Dr Robert Finger, the fourth recipient of the prestigious Annemarie Mankiewicz-Zelkin Fellowship awarded by the University of Melbourne.

The Fellowship, together with a Clinical Investigatorship from the Sylvia and Charles Viertel Charitable Foundation, will enable Dr Finger to continue his career as a clinician-scientist working to solve some major public health issues in Australia and Asia, including:

  • Barriers patients face in accessing treatments for wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD);
  • Diabetic eye disease management in rural Australia and low-income Asian countries such as Vietnam, Cambodia, Bangladesh and India;
  • The development of new measures for quality of life and daily activities for people with very low vision.

Originally from Germany, Dr Finger is highly accomplished, holding a Masters, Doctor of Medicine and two PhD degrees. He currently works part-time as an ophthalmologist at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital and has published over 60 articles on clinical, public health and epidemiological research.

“I would like to recognise the generosity of Annemarie Mankiewicz and Lawrence Zelkin, and Sylvia and Charles Viertel in establishing their awards and leaving a strong legacy for future generations.

“I look forward to starting this particular project. I believe that every person with wet AMD who needs it should have access to available treatment which could save their sight,” he said.

Comparing Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme data and population-based incidence, there is a large gap between people receiving treatment and those who are in need of treatment. Based on conservative estimates, there may be a gap of more than 5,000 new cases per year where people may not be treated.

“My study will determine what the barriers are to treatment; such as availability, cost (gap fees), the need for ongoing monitoring and treatment, and perceptions of the invasive intraocular injections as uncomfortable

It is important that patients are aware that current treatments are effective and can prevent further deterioration of vision or improve vision in some cases. The side effects of these treatments are minimal and virtually no patients discontinue treatment due to discomfort.”