Macular Degeneration can result in blurred or no vision in the centre of your visual field. It often creeps up slowly and, with age, worsens over time making it hard to drive, read and recognise faces, etc. The condition can also be brought on by illnesses such as diabetes. Six years ago it was the 4th common cause of blindness after cataracts, preterm birth and glaucoma. In some countries you just have to live with it, here in France, they offer significant help.
My neighbour is 90 and has been having injections, directly into the eye, for this condition for seven years. The first session can be a bit daunting apparently but the improvements are rapid.
Every six or seven weeks, depending on the results of the previous injection, she is picked up by a medical taxi and driven to Bordeaux. There, she has a pre-exam and then sees the specialist who examines her again and then injects directly into the eye, and she is brought home again. She is given a prescription for the next injection which has to be collected from the chemist but, usually, the driver does that for her.
The cost of each injection is around EUR 900, the taxi, EUR 260 but she is 100% covered by CPAM (her social security) because of her diabetes, otherwise her private medical insurance would foot the bill. The only cost to her is EUR 62 which is the additional top-up fee charged by the consultant which is not covered by her insurance.
Her doctor provides the form for transport, and kick-started the whole process with a prescription for a visit to an optician. In turn, they prescribed a visit to the specialist. Without doubt, the availability of this treatment has totally changed her life and, apart from a 1.5-hour chauffeur-driven trip to Bordeaux, represents no inconvenience whatsoever. That level of health care is incredible – she can read, drive and live a normal life thanks to the French health system.