Some older people in New York who are in the early stages of age-related macular degeneration may not be properly diagnosed. A study by researchers at the University of Alabama, Birmingham that was published in "JAMA Ophthalmology" found that one quarter of patients who had signs of the condition were not diagnosed.
An optometrist or ophthalmologist had done a dilated eye exam on all of the 644 patients in the study. All were reexamined by researchers. The top cause of loss of vision for people older than 50, AMD is not curable, but it can be treated. Researchers said that treatment with supplements that slow the progress of the disease would have benefited nearly one-third of people who were not correctly diagnosed.
It is anticipated that more people will develop AMD as the population ages. Since the disease leaves people unable to read, watch TV or perform regular household tasks and may often be missed, researchers suggested that people should be more aware of the symptoms. Among them are dark spots and blurry vision. People for whom straight lines start to appear wavy or people with holes in the center of their vision should seek medical attention immediately. Risk factors including being female, being older than 60, having a family history of the disease, receiving sunlight exposure and smoking.
If a doctor fails to diagnose a person’s condition, even if the condition is not fatal, it can have serious implications for the person’s long-term health as in these cases. A person who believes the failure to diagnose constitutes negligent medical treatment might want to consult an attorney. Legally, determining whether medical malpractice has occurred depends on whether the person received a reasonable standard of care. This means a court will look at whether the person would likely have received similar treatment from most medical professionals.