Deirdre O’Kane launches AMD Awareness Week

Deirdre O’Kane launches AMD Awareness Week

Deirdre jumps on board sightseeing bus tour, to raise awareness of Age Related Macular Degeneration

  • Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is the number one cause of sight loss in Ireland for those aged over 50[1]
  • Novartis is offering free AMD eye testing on an open top bus travelling the country
  • Deirdre O’Kane launches 11th annual AMD awareness week highlighting the importance of getting regular eye tests and to visit an eye care specialist at the first sign of any deterioration in vision
  • More than 100,000 people in Ireland aged over 50 are living with AMD[2]

Monday 10th September: Today marks the start of the 11th annual AMD Awareness Week. AMD is the number one cause of sight loss in Ireland for those aged over 501 and more than 7,000 new cases are diagnosed each year in Ireland. 1 The symptoms, including vision distortion and blurring[3], often go unrecognised in the early stages so it is crucial that those aged 50 and over, get their eyes tested regularly.

The theme of this year’s AMD Awareness Week is ‘Sightsee With Me.’ Sightseeing and travelling with family is enjoyed by many people and the campaign aims to highlight the importance of managing eye health to continue to see impressive sights with the ones we love.

A range of targeted initiatives will be rolled out nationally, encouraging everyone over 50 to get an AMD eye test to ensure they continue to see the things they love. The Novartis campaign is proudly supported by the Association of Optometrists Ireland, Fighting Blindness, the Irish College of Ophthalmologists, and the National Council for the Blind.

Actress and comedian, Deirdre O’Kane was today announced as the 2018 AMD campaign ambassador. Speaking at the launch, Deirdre said: “Having recently turned 50, I’ve become really aware that now more than ever I need to think about my health. Protecting our eyesight is such an important priority, I’d hate to miss out on seeing the things I love! The Sightsee With Me campaign is an important reminder to consider the lasting memories we create with loved ones through sightseeing and to get our eyes tested regularly to continue to enjoy these special moments.”

The Novartis AMD testing bus will travel throughout the country from the 10th to the14th of September. Free AMD eye tests will be available on board the bus, along with information on the condition.

Speaking at the launch of AMD Awareness Week 2018, Loretto Callaghan, Managing Director, Novartis Ireland, commented: “Novartis is committed to help people with eye diseases and we are proud to continually support AMD Awareness Week. Our 2018 campaign, Sightsee With Me, focuses on cherishing special moments with loved ones through seeing beautiful places and creating lasting memories together for as long as we can. We would like to invite people all over Ireland to visit the Novartis AMD testing bus travelling the country this week or visit a local participating optometrist to avail of a free AMD eye test.”

Mr Mark Cahill, Consultant Eye Surgeon, and spokesperson for the Irish College of Ophthalmologists explained: “Symptoms of AMD can often go unrecognised so it’s vital that those aged over 50 get their eyes tested every two years. When AMD is diagnosed and treated early it is a very manageable condition, as effective treatments are now available.

There are many ways people can improve their eye health such as maintaining a healthy lifestyle, increasing intake of leafy greens into your daily diet, regular exercise and not smoking. If you notice any change in your sight or if there is a history of AMD in your family, it is important to get your eyes tested regularly.”

For more information and testing locations visit

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

Monday, 10th September:

  • Lexicon Library, Dún Laoghaire, Co. Dublin, from 10am – 1pm
  • County Library Tallaght, Library Square, Tallaght, Dublin 24 from 2pm – 6pm

Tuesday, 11th September:

  • John Roberts Square, Waterford City Centre, from 10am – 1pm
  • Waterford Golf Club, Co. Waterford from 2pm – 6pm

Wednesday, 12th September:

  • Westpoint Shopping Centre, Westport, Co. Mayo from 10am – 1pm
  • Breaffy House Resort, Bowling Competition, Co. Mayo from 2pm – 6pm

Thursday, 13th September:

  • Abbey Street Car Park, Ennis, Co. Clare from 10am – 1pm
  • Lahinch Promenade, Lahinch, Co. Clare from 2pm – 6pm

Friday, 14th September:

  • Inis Mór Co-Op (Comharchumann Arann), Inis Mór from 12pm – 4.15pm

Chris White, CEO, NCBI commented at the launch: “As the national sight loss organisation, the NCBI is passionate about ensuring that people are equipped with all the information they need about AMD. Everyone will experience some changes in sight as part of the natural aging process, recognising the signs of AMD as early as possible is key to ensuring that you have the best vision possible as you grow older.   Our NCBI Charity shops nationwide will be hosting coffee mornings for AMD Awareness Week to raise public awareness and to encourage discussion around this important health initiative. NCBI services are available to everyone affected by AMD, and their families, and we encourage everyone to get involved in this year’s campaign which is now in its second decade.” –

Siobhan Kelly, CEO, Irish College of Ophthalmologists commented at the launch: “This is a very exciting new chapter for AMD awareness and we hope the Sightsee With Me campaign significantly raises awareness of AMD. The Irish College of Ophthalmologists is proud to support the campaign and to advocate for early detection of the condition. The vision loss often associated with a range of eye conditions including AMD, is preventable and diagnosis and treatment by an Eye Doctor, at the earliest opportunity is important to ensure the best health outcomes.”

Kevin Whelan, CEO, Fighting Blindness commented at the launch: “The Fighting Blindness team are here to provide information and support to people and families affected by sight loss.  We’re very excited to continue to support AMD Awareness Week now in its eleventh year. It is an important health campaign raising awareness of the condition and encouraging people to protect their vision by getting their eyes tested regularly.  If you are worried about your sight, please visit the free Novartis mobile testing unit during AMD Week or your local eye care specialist.”

Lynda McGivney-Nolan, Optometric Advisor to Association of Optometrists, commented: “The most effective way to detect AMD is by having regular eye examinations with your Optometrist. AMD testing is routinely carried out by all optometrists during the eye examination. Optometrists are trained to identify the early changes at the macula which can appear before your eye sight is affected. Optometrists are also trained to give you the best advice on how to reduce and manage your risk of developing AMD. If you have any concerns about your vision, you should always talk to your optometrist.”





Ann-Marie Lowry |Nicole Chesser, Teneo PSG 087 4111228| 085 7155448

About Novartis Ireland

Novartis provides innovative healthcare solutions that address the evolving needs of patients and societies. Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Novartis offers a diversified portfolio to best meet these needs: innovative medicines, cost-saving generic and biosimilar pharmaceuticals and eye care. Novartis has leading positions globally in each of these areas. In 2017, the Group achieved net sales of USD 49.1 billion, while R&D throughout the Group amounted to approximately USD 9.0 billion. Novartis is currently conducting over 30 clinical trials in Ireland.  Novartis Group companies employ approximately 125,000 worldwide and over 1,600 in Ireland in two manufacturing plants in Cork and commercial operations in Dublin. For more information, please visit

About The Association of Optometrists Ireland

The Association of Optometrists Ireland is the professional representative body for the vast majority of practicing 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. For further information visit

Fighting Blindness is an Irish patient-led charity working to cure blindness, support people experiencing sight loss and empower patients. It does this by:

Funding and enabling world-leading research into treatments and cures for blindness. Since 1983, Fighting Blindness has invested over €17 million in more than 90 research projects, with a particular focus on genes and gene therapy, cell technology and regenerative medicine, retinal implant technology, novel drug therapy and population studies. Providing professional counselling and peer-to-peer support through its Insight counselling service for people and families affected by sight loss. Undertaking extensive activity in the area of advocacy and patient empowerment, and, specifically, for equitable access to existing treatments, novel therapies and appropriate care.

For more information on the work of Fighting Blindness, visit

About the Irish College of Ophthalmologists

The Irish College of Ophthalmologists is the training and professional body for eye doctors in Ireland. Ophthalmologists are medically trained doctors who have undertaken extensive further specialist training in order to diagnose and treat patient eye conditions, diseases and injuries.

The ICO is delighted to continue our support of AMD Awareness Week now in its 11th year in order to help increase public awareness of the condition and how best to look after our nations eye health.

The vision loss often associated with a range of eye conditions including AMD is preventable and diagnosis and treatment by an Eye Doctor, at the earliest opportunity is important to ensure the best health outcomes.


About the National Council for the Blind

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

For more information visit



[1] The Cost of Sight Loss Report NCBI 2011

[2] 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.

( bjophthalmol-2014-305768.short accessed: 14/07/2017)

[3] ( Accessed 19 July 2018