Cross my heart, hope to die, stick a needle in my eye. That was a saying from my childhood used to forge a promise. Little did I know it would become a reality with its own sacred promise: the ability to see. Twenty years ago, a diagnosis of Wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration (wAMD) most certainly led to significant vision loss or even blindness. With the emergence of Anti Veg-F drugs in 2005 there was a treatment that could save vision. These drugs were and are life altering, but they are also expensive and they are administered via an intravitreal injection: aka a needle in your eye. To make matters worse, wAMD is a chronic disease meaning that it cannot usually be cured only controlled, which makes it necessary to get routine injections in the impacted eye.

You might be asking yourself, “does she have any good news”? Well, yes! I do!! If you have been diagnosed with a chronic retinal disease by a retinal specialist, and you have been prescribed with an Anti Veg-F or Complement Inhibitor, there are programs that may help offset the costs after insurance. Patients that have Medicare/Medicare Advantage are eligible to apply for participation in the chronic disease fund. Once a patient has successfully enrolled, this fund may be used to assist with any out-of-pocket costs that might make treatment difficult, if not financially impossible.

Patients that do not have Medicare may qualify from a myriad of other assistance programs depending upon their individual insurance and household income circumstances. There are even programs for the under insured and the uninsured. Moral of the story, there is indeed good news! First, you are not alone; there are ~ 20 million Americans that have some form of AMD. Second, there is a treatment available for wAMD that can control the disease in most cases, and a treatment for Dry Age-Related Macular Degeneration that can slow down the disease progression buying precious time. Lastly, there are financial assistance programs to help manage the cost burden and mitigate this barrier to receiving care.

The good news does not stop there! AMD is just one of the diseases these drugs can treat, and the same programs are available for those as well. If you are seeing your retinal specialist for routine injections to treat: Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD), Diabetic Macular Edema (DME), Retinal Vein Occlusion (RVO/CRVO), Diabetic Retinopathy (DR), Choroidal Neovascularization (CNV), etc. and the cost share is difficult for you to manage ask to speak to someone in the billing office so they can provide access to resources necessary to consider your options.

By Sherri White

CEO, Retina Associates of Western NY, P.C.


Read more about the patient assistance and support programs that RAWNY works with visiting our website and navigating to Patient Center > Patient Education & Resources. 

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