New research reveals that over half of adults are unaware of Age-Related Macular Degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in people over 50 in Ireland
People over 50 at greater risk of AMD and urged to avail of free testing this week to Never Miss the Wonder in their lives
* New research reveals Machu Picchu as top wonder for the Irish, followed by The Great Wall of China with The Colosseum, Italy in 3rd place
* Nationwide Never Miss the Wonder photo competition winners revealed and photobook launched
* Greater awareness needed of Age-Related Macular Degeneration, the leading cause of blindness for people aged over 50 in Ireland
This week, from 19th to 25th September, adults across the country are being urged to consider their eye health and avail of free testing for Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of blindness in those over 50 in Ireland. New research reveals that half (50%) of all adults are unaware of Age-Related Macular Degeneration, despite the fact that 7,000 people are diagnosed with it each year, and almost 100,000 people are living with the condition.
The aim of the Never Miss The Wonder campaign is to improve knowledge and understanding of Age-Related Macular Degeneration, so it can be diagnosed and treated as early as possible, to help preserve healthy eyesight. Now in its ninth year, AMD Awareness Week is a nationwide health initiative driven by the NCBI – the national sight loss organisation, Fighting Blindness, the Irish College of Ophthalmologists (ICO), the Association of Optometrists Ireland (AOI), and Novartis Ireland.
Research conducted for the campaign reveals that Machu Picchu, Peru, is the ‘wonder’ that Irish people most want to see (20%), closely followed by The Great Wall of China (18%); and The Colosseum, Italy in third place at 14%.
The winners of the Never Miss the Wonder photo competition, which aimed to highlight the wonder in our everyday lives and increase discussion of the impact that Age-Related Macular Degeneration could have on the quality of our lives, were announced at a launch event in the Science Gallery, Dublin 2.
Launching the photobook, broadcaster Mary Kennedy congratulated the winners and finalists and said, “Protecting our eyesight and maintaining our vision health is an important priority and we must all take care of – and appreciate – our sight. The Never Miss the Wonder campaign encourages everyone to think about the wonders in their lives, and get their eyes tested regularly. Congratulations to the finalists and winning entries, this photobook is a beautiful showcase of what Irish people hold as wonderful. I hope that anyone experiencing vision problems seeks the help they need and speaks to their eye specialist as early as possible.”
The specially-designed Never Miss The Wonder photobook was created using entries from all over Ireland and the finalists’ entries were displayed at an exhibition to kick off the AMD awareness week. Cathal Curran from Tralee in Co. Kerry was the overall winner, with Clodagh Watkins from Co. Meath and Susan Fitzgerald from Dublin as the two runners-up. Long-term supporters of AMD Awareness Week also shared their wonders including RTE presenter Mary Kennedy, Met Eireann and RTE weather presenter, Evelyn Cusack, and award winning, best-selling authors Sheila O’Flanagan and Sinead Moriarty.
A dedicated mobile testing unit will travel to Cork, Dublin, Galway, Limerick and Waterford during AMD Awareness Week offering free AMD eye tests and information to the public. Free AMD testing will also be available in over 280 participating optometrists nationwide. A full list of the free eye testing locations can be found at www.AMD.ie.
Mr Mark Cahill, Consultant eye surgeon, and spokesperson for the Irish College of Ophthalmologists said, “If you are over 50, it is important to get your eyes checked regularly, particularly if there is a family history of eye disease or if you notice any change in your vision. Age-related Macular Degeneration is a manageable and treatable eye disease, with a greatly improved outcome for patients as a result of earlier diagnosis and new treatments. As well as regular eye-checks, there is a lot people can do to protect their eye health and help to slow the progression or onset of AMD, like giving up smoking, eating a healthy diet rich in leafy greens and exercising regularly.”
Chris White, CEO, NCBI said, “This week, NCBI shops are hosting coffee mornings and encouraging everyone to discuss this important health initiative so they can recognise the signs of AMD as early as possible.”
Lynda McGivney Nolan, Optometrist, Association of Optometrists Ireland commented, “Our members are offering free AMD testing at over 280 locations across Ireland and we encourage everyone who is worried about their eyesight, or experiencing vision problems, to talk to a participating optometrist and avail of the free test.”
Kevin Whelan, CEO, Fighting Blindness said, “Fighting Blindness provides information and support to people and families affected by vision loss. We know that Age-related Macular Degeneration can have a severe impact on people’s lives but we also know that awareness and early diagnosis allows people to protect their vision as much as possible. This awareness week aims to increase understanding of Age-Related Macular degeneration, highlight the symptoms, and encourage anyone affected to speak to their eye specialist.”
Loretto Callaghan, Managing Director, Novartis Ireland said, “We have been overwhelmed by the number of incredible entries to the Never Miss the Wonder competition. This campaign really captured the imagination of people across Ireland and we are thrilled that it led to increased discussion around the importance of taking care of our eyesight. We hope that anyone worried about their eyesight will visit the free Novartis mobile testing unit this week, or your local eye specialist.”
For more information on the free testing locations and to see the Never Miss the Wonder photo competition entries, please visit www.AMD.ie.
written by Active Retirement Ireland.