AMD Week 2016 - Never Miss the Wonder

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 Ireland1. New research reveals that half (50%) of all adults are unaware of Age-Related Macular Degeneration 2, despite the fact that 7,000 people are diagnosed with it each year, and almost 100,000 people are living with the condition3.

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 today 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

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.”

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.”

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.”

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



  1. The Cost of Sight Loss Report, NCBI, 2011
  2. AMD Awareness Research. Empathy Research. September 2016.
  3. Akuffo KO, Nolan J, Stack J, Moran R, Feeney J, Kenny RA, Peto T, Dooley C, O’Halloran AM, Cronin H, and Beatty S. Prevalence of age-related macular degeneration in the Republic of Ireland. British Journal of Ophthalmology. 2015.

About Age-related Macular Degeneration:

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness in Ireland – almost 100,000 people throughout the country have AMD (1), with 7,000 new cases diagnosed each year in the over 50 population. The main symptoms of AMD to be aware of are blurred vision, wavy lines or a blind spot in the centre of the field of vision. As the symptoms of AMD can initially go unrecognised, it is crucial that people over 50 get their eyes tested regularly so that if they experience any signs of AMD, it can be diagnosed and treated as early as possible.

The Novartis AMD mobile testing unit will visit the following locations during AMD Awareness Week:

Dublin on Tuesday, 20th September:

  • County Library Tallaght, Library Square, Tallaght, from 10am – 1pm
  • Lexicon Library, Dún Laoghaire, Co. Dublin from 2pm – 6pm

Galway on Wednesday, 21st September:

  • Ballybane Library, Castlepark Road, Ballybane, Galway from 10am – 1pm
  • Westside Shopping Centre, Galway from 2pm – 6pm

Limerick on Thursday, September 22:

  • Castletroy Golf Club, Golf Links Road, Castletroy, Limerick from 10am – 1pm
  • Junction of O’Connell Street and Thomas Street, Limerick from 2pm – 6pm

Waterford on Friday, September 23:

  • Waterford Golf Club, Newrath, Waterford from 10am – 1pm
  • Ardkeen Shopping Centre, Waterford from 2pm – 6pm

Cork on Saturday, September 24:

  • Mahon Point Shopping Centre, Link Road, Co. Cork from 10am – 1pm
  • Cork City Library, 57-61 Grand Parade, Cork from 2pm to 6pmists around the

National Vision Coalition:

The ICO, AOI, NCBI and Fighting Blindness are all members of the National Vision Coalition, an alliance of healthcare professionals, those working in the sight loss community, and service users representing the interests of the vision impaired and blind community.

About National Council for the Blind of Ireland (NCBI):

NCBI is the leading charity working for the rising number of people affected by sight loss in Ireland. They provide practical and emotional support to help people with sight loss face their futures with confidence.

For more information visit

About Fighting Blindness:

Fighting Blindness is an Irish patient-led charity funding and enabling world-leading research into treatments and cures for blindness. It provides a professional counselling service to support people affected by sight loss. Through education and advocacy, Fighting Blindness works to empower everyone in Ireland living with severe vision impairment. Fighting Blindness is involved with rare, genetic, age-related and degenerative conditions and represents the 224,000 adults and children in Ireland who are affected by severe vision impairment. Please call 01 6789 004 or visit for more information.

About the Irish College of Ophthalmologists:

The Irish College of Ophthalmologists (ICO) is the professional and training body for eye doctors and the expert body on medical eye care in Ireland.

The ICO is dedicated to promoting excellence in eye care through the education of its members, trainees and the public. Our central mission is to reduce the number of annual cases of preventable blindness affecting people in Ireland and to maintain standards of excellence in eye health care delivery.  We do this by educating eye doctors in training, providing on-going education for eye doctors in practice, giving accurate medical advice to the public and policy guidance for the government.

The ICO places a priority on raising the public’s awareness of eye health and the significance of eye health as an indicator of general health and wellbeing. For further information on eye health, visit

About The Association of Optometrists Ireland:

The Association of Optometrists Ireland is the professional representative body for the vast majority of practising optometrists in the country. Formerly known as ophthalmic opticians and commonly referred to as opticians, the official title in Irish law is now optometrist. The Association, in conjunction with the Opticians Board, which is the statutory regulatory authority, provides a supervisory and ethical environment for all members. The purpose of this is to ensure the highest possible standards in provision of clinical and dispensing services to the public. Subscription to the Association’s Code of Ethics and Practice is mandatory for all members.

About Healthy Ireland

Healthy Ireland is the national framework for improved health and wellbeing in Ireland.  Healthy Ireland’s vision is that every person in Ireland can enjoy physical and mental health and wellbeing to their full potential, where wellbeing is valued and supported at every level of society and is everyone’s responsibility.   This understanding calls for a partnership approach in all of the actions set out in the Framework. Healthy Ireland is designed to harness the energy, creativity and expertise of everyone whose work promotes health and wellbeing, and encourages all sectors of society to get involved in making Ireland a healthier place to live, work and play.

For further information, please visit:

About Novartis:

Novartis is the only healthcare company globally with leading positions in pharmaceuticals, eye care and cost-saving generics.  Novartis employs approximately 130,000 people worldwide and over 1,600 in Ireland in two manufacturing plants in Cork and commercial operations in Dublin.  Novartis has an industry-leading pipeline with over 200 projects in clinical development.  Novartis ranks number one in Ireland in number of clinical trials, currently conducting 30 clinical trials, involving over 900 patients.  For more information, please visit