7% of over 50s have AMD: Groundbreaking Irish Study Presented at Retina 2013

Leading Vision Experts Convene at Retina 2013 – Friday November 8 and Saturday November 9, 2013

A distinguished panel of Irish and international researchers will present at this year’s Retina 2013 conference in Croke Park. The two-day conference brings together a host of world leading experts involved in the global effort to understand the conditions that cause blindness; working to ultimately find treatments and cures. Leading researchers will discuss topical issues such as stem cell research and gene therapy, as well as the latest research developments in degenerative sight loss, which affects over 224,000 people in Ireland and 40 million people worldwide.

Now in its fourteenth year, the annual Retina Conference brings together world leading experts involved in the global effort to understand the conditions that cause blindness; working to ultimately find treatments and cures.

Details of a ground-breaking investigation into the prevalence of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in Ireland will be revealed by Professor John Nolan at Retina 2013, on Friday November 8. Presenting for the first time on the Irish Longitudinal Study on Aging (TILDA) findings, Professor Nolan, Principal Investigator of the Macular Pigment Research Group, Waterford IT, detailed the prevalence of AMD in the Republic of Ireland – which up until now had never been investigated.

5035 participants, aged 50 years or older, took part in clinical assessments for the investigation and as Professor Nolan explained it was found that the estimated prevalence of AMD in Ireland is at a surprising 7%.

Professor Nolan commented in the findings, “This data is the result of many years of work and commitment from the great TILDA team and I am delighted to present it for the first time to some of the world’s top international ophthalmologists, researchers and scientists at Retina 2013.”

“This unique data will inform Ireland, and beyond, on the seriousness of this blinding and life changing condition. It also highlights the need to put preventative measures in place before AMD becomes a larger burden on both patients and the economy. Currently AMD accounts for a third of the total cost of vision loss in the Republic of Ireland which is estimated at €400 million annually and predicted to rise to €2.7 billion by 2020.”

Other key note speakers at the conference include world renowned experts Prof Robin Ali, Moorfields Hospital and UCL on effective transplantation of stem cell derived photoreceptors; Prof John Flannery, University of California, Berkeley, USA who will present optogenetic therapies for late-stage retinal degeneration and Prof James Bainbridge, University College London and Moorfields Eye Hospital, UK on Retinal cell transplantation.

This year’s international conference is hugely significant as not only are we hosting some of the world’s leading scientists in the field of vision research, but we are also including a public engagement element for our conference on Saturday, November 9.

Disease specific breakout sessions will allow the public to ask questions on the area that most relates to them or their family around specific condition management, research or findings and developments from across the world. As a patient-led organisation it is a priority of Fighting Blindness to support and empower our members by ensuring that they have access to the most up to date information on the conditions that affect them. Our goal is to promote and fund research to develop cures and treatments for blindness, to support people living with sight loss and to empower patients. We are encouraging registration for Saturday at www.retina.ie.

The Public Engagement Day will be held Saturday, November 9, at Croke Park Conference Centre, beginning at 10.00am. Patients, family members or anyone interested in retinal conditions are invited to come along to find out more about developments in; age-related macular degeneration (AMD), diabetic retinopathy, retinitis pigmentosa and other rare inherited diseases.

Retina 2013 has been made possible by an educational grant from Novartis.