'Never Miss the Wonder' campaign highlights importance of testing for age-related macular degeneration (AMD)

  • Nationwide photograph competition announced to find the wonders in everyday life
  • Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness for over 50s in Ireland(1)
  • Ambassador Mary Kennedy urges people over 50 to appreciate the wonders in their everyday lives and avail of free AMD eye test

A campaign to encourage those aged 50 and over to ‘Never Miss the Wonder’ was launched in St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin today to mark Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) Awareness Week, which runs from September 19 to 25. A serious eye disease, Age-Related Macular Degeneration is the leading cause of blindness for people aged over 50 in Ireland (1). The initiative aims to highlight the importance of getting regular eye tests to protect eyesight and prevent sight loss.

Special moments in life can often be taken for granted – from things as simple as watching grandchildren play, to seeing extraordinary sights such as iconic wonders of the world. AMD Ambassador Mary Kennedy was on hand to officially launch the ‘Never Miss the Wonder’ photograph competition to highlight the wonders in everyday life, and encourage discussion on the potential impact of AMD on quality of life. Everyone is invited to submit photos of their personally chosen ‘wonder’ and be in with a chance to win a €300 voucher, with two runner-up prizes of €100 each. A selection of winning entries will be created into a specially-designed photobook and displayed at a launch event to kick off AMD Awareness Week.

Now in its ninth year, AMD Awareness Week is a nationwide health initiative supported by Fighting Blindness, NCBI – the national sight loss organisation, the Irish College of Ophthalmologists (ICO), the Association of Optometrists Ireland (AOI), and Novartis Ireland. A dedicated mobile testing van 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 participating optometrists nationwide. A full list of the free eye testing locations can be found at www.AMD.ie.

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 there are lots of things you can do to protect your vision. This awareness week aims to increase understanding of this disease, highlight the symptoms, and encourage anyone affected to speak to their eye specialist. If you are worried about your sight, visit the Novartis mobile testing unit or one of the participating optometrists.”

Dr Mark Cahill, Consultant eye surgeon, and spokesperson for the Irish College of Ophthalmologists said, “Age-related Macular Degeneration is one of the most common causes of sight loss in older adults in Ireland however it is a manageable and treatable eye disease. The outcome for patients with AMD has greatly improved with modern treatment in the past decade, and a condition that would have led to certain sight loss in the past, thankfully does not hold such a fearful outlook for patients. If you are over 50, it is important to get your eyes checked by a medical professional regularly. This is particularly important if there is a family history of eye disease or if you notice any change in your vision. It is also important to remind people that positive lifestyle changes can have a big impact 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.”

Lynda McGivney Nolan, Optometrist, Association of Optometrists Ireland commented, “Taking good care of your sight, especially later in life, is hugely important. Many of our members will be offering free testing during AMD Awareness Week 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.”

Chris White, CEO, NCBI said, “Our NCBI shops nationwide will be getting behind this year’s AMD awareness week, hosting coffee mornings and encouraging everyone to discuss this important health initiative so they can recognise the signs of AMD as early as possible. Our services are available to everyone affected by AMD, and their families, and we welcome everyone to get involved in this year’s campaign.”

Loretto Callaghan, Managing Director, Novartis Ireland said, “This year’s AMD Awareness Week campaign is about reminding people to appreciate what they see around them, and engage in the wonder of their everyday lives. We often take our vision for granted, until problems start and it can often be accepted as part of growing older.  By inviting people to submit images of the wonders in their lives we’re encouraging them to be mindful of the need to take care of their eyesight and get their eyes tested regularly. If you think you, or someone close to you, is experiencing symptoms of AMD, visit the free Novartis mobile testing unit, or your local eye specialist.”

For more information on the free testing locations and Never Miss the Wonder photo competition, please visit www.AMD.ie.

References:

  1. The Cost of Sight Loss Report, NCBI, 2011

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.

Photos for the Never Miss the Wonder competition, along with a caption explaining the image should be sent to wonder@amd.ie by 9th September. First prize winner will receive a €300 voucher and two runners up will receive €100 vouchers each.

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

Dublin on Tuesday, September 20:

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

Galway on Wednesday, September 21:

  • 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 6pm

Many optometrists around the country are also providing free testing, the full list is available here.

National Vision Coalition

Fighting Blindness, NCBI, the Irish College of Ophthalmologists and the Association of Optometrists Ireland 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 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 www.FightingBlindness.ie for more information.

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. We provide practical and emotional support to help people with sight loss face their futures with confidence.

For more information visit www.ncbi.ie

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 www.eyedoctors.ie

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. For further information visit www.aoi.ie.

About Novartis:

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, eye care and cost-saving generic pharmaceuticals. Novartis is the only global company with leading positions in these areas.  Novartis is the leading Ophthalmic company in the world. In 2014, the Group achieved net sales of USD 58.0 billion, while R&D throughout the Group amounted to approximately USD 9.9 billion (USD 9.6 billion excluding impairment and amortization charges). Novartis Group companies employ approximately 120,000 full-time-equivalent associates. Novartis products are available in more than 180 countries around the world. For more information, please visit www.novartis.ie.