Guernsey Press

HSC pulling prescription eye vitamin ‘very unfair’

Islanders with eyesight problems have been left struggling to decide whether to keep taking an expensive vitamin supplement, after the States dropped it from the prescription list.

Guernsey Macular Society meeting at St Martins Community Centre. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 32701441)

About 500 people a year locally get Viteyes on prescription. It is marketed to prevent age-related macular degeneration.

But it will not be available on prescription from next year. The move will save Health & Social Care £85,000 a year.

But the Medical Specialist Group’s ophthalmology department will continue to advise the use of Viteyes supplements by susceptible people, in line with advice from the Royal College of Ophthalmologists.

Members of Guernsey’s Macular Society had been given a lot of inaccurate information about the cost of buying Viteyes privately, said group leader Bill Gardner.

Mr Gardner said the news had worried some members.

‘They’re concerned because it gives them some uncertainty about whether the product is effective and useful,’ he said.

‘But the main concern I’ve heard is about the cost, and people have had some frightening misinformation about what it actually costs.’

Viteyes costs £57 for 180 tablets from the official website. But Mr Gardner said there were cheaper alternative tablets on sites like Amazon.

‘I don’t think it’s something that any patient should be concerned about, except those on the lowest incomes.’

Society member Ursula Moore has wet AMD in both eyes, which is treated with injections every eight weeks. She recently went to pick up three months’ supply of Viteyes and was charged £57.

‘I think it’s very unfair,’ she said of HSC’s decision to stop providing it on prescription.

She had written to the Guernsey Disability Alliance and also wondered if there might be a way of obtaining the product direct from the manufacturers.

Mary Daniels discovered she had the wet form of AMD in one eye about two-and-a half years ago.

She had been taking Viteyes ever since, but said she would no longer be doing so. As well as not wanting to take too many medicines, the tablets were large.

‘I don’t like them because they’re so huge. I’m not very good at taking tablets, but I do have a pretty good diet.’

At the society’s November meeting, the first since HSC’s announcement, members heard from Sarah Vurchett, optometrist at Webster’s Opticians, who provided information about obtaining Viteyes locally or online, and also said that people should talk to their doctors if they had further queries.

Guernsey Blind Association vision support adviser Debbie Clarke was also in attendance to offer support and said that it was also important for people to eat a healthy diet including lots of green vegetables.