PUBLIC URGED TO ‘SEE THE WHOLE PICTURE’ DURING AMD AWARENESS WEEK

  • Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of sight loss in Ireland, affecting over 100,000 people1
  • Campaign aims to remind public of the importance of regular eye tests as early diagnosis can result in the effective treatment of AMD and prevention of sight loss
  • AMD Awareness Week will run from Monday 25th – Saturday 30th September
  • Renowned photographer Barry McCall worked with four individuals to show the public what it would be like to look through the eyes of someone with AMD

Monday, 25th September 2017, Dublin: Photography exhibition See the Whole Picture’ by Barry McCall was today officially launched at the National Gallery of Ireland as part of AMD Awareness Week which runs from September 25th – 30th. AMD, which affects over 100,000 Irish people, is the leading cause of blindness in Ireland1. The symptoms often go unrecognised in the early stages so it is crucial that the public, especially those aged 50 and older, get their eyes tested regularly. Now in its 10th year, AMD Awareness Week aims to raise awareness of the condition and encourage the public to get a free AMD test. The campaign is supported by the Association of Optometrists Ireland (AOI), Fighting Blindness, the Irish College of Ophthalmologists (ICO), The National Council for the Blind of Ireland (NCBI) and Novartis.

World renowned photographer Barry McCall worked with four individuals to create a narrative about life with AMD with real people at its centre, telling their own story. He captured each individual’s passion as seen through their eyes to show how AMD has impacted their life. The images vary from early stages of the condition, blurred or wavy vision, to advanced stages, which manifests as a large black mark in the central vision. The striking portraits hope serve as a reminder to everyone to take a couple of minutes to get their eyes tested regularly to ensure they ‘See the Whole Picture’ for years to come.

Mr Mark Cahill, Consultant Eye Surgeon, Irish College of Ophthalmologists explained; “AMD is a very manageable eye condition when diagnosed and treated early, as effective therapies are now available.  AMD remains, however, a leading cause of sight loss in Ireland in older adults and we continue to work to increase public awareness on the importance of early diagnosis and taking care of your eye health.  The prevalence of AMD is rising significantly as our population ages and we emphasise the importance of having resources available in the health service to deliver the sight saving treatments.

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 sight. It is also important to remember that a healthy lifestyle can have a big positive impact on eye health and help to slow the progression or onset of AMD; don’t smoke, eat a healthy diet rich in leafy greens and exercise regularly.”

The Novartis AMD Mobile Testing Unit will travel to five cities, Dublin, Waterford, Limerick, Galway, and Cork, this week, Tuesday 26th – Saturday 30th September, to provide free AMD tests to the public. Free AMD tests can also be availed of through participating optometrists, for more information and a list of the participating optometrists please visit www.amd.ie. (Apologies, please note mobile testing units are not currently wheelchair accessible, however free AMD tests are also available from your local participating optometrist)

Lynda McGivney Nolan, Optometrist, Association of Optometrists Ireland commented at the launch; “Over 280 of our members will be offering free AMD tests to the public nationwide again this year during AMD Awareness Week. Please take the time to visit your local participating optometrist or the Novartis AMD testing unit this week in Dublin, Waterford, Galway, Limerick and Cork, a visit could save your sight.”

Kevin Whelan, CEO, Fighting Blindness said; “Any new diagnosis can feel lonely or sometimes frightening, we would like to encourage anyone who has questions about AMD to contact Fighting Blindness for information and support services. If you are worried about your sight, please visit the free Novartis mobile testing unit during AMD Awareness Week or your local optometrist.”

Chris White, CEO, NCBI, said; “The NCBI want to encourage everyone over the age of 50 to take advantage of the free AMD eye tests taking place this week. The test is free, only takes a couple of minutes and could save your sight. Our nationwide network of NCBI shops will be hosting coffee mornings for AMD Awareness Week to raise its profile amongst the public and to encourage discussion around this very important health initiative. Together we can make the 10th AMD Awareness Week the most successful yet.”

Loretto Callaghan, Managing Director, Novartis Ireland said; “Novartis is proud to continually support the AOI, Fighting Blindness, ICO and NCBI in their combined effort to promote AMD testing. This year we celebrate 10 years of commitment to AMD Awareness and reflect on all of the previous successful campaigns, which has seen almost 6,000 people avail of a free test since the campaign began in 2008. This year’s campaign, See the Whole Picture, puts the focus back on the courageous individuals who live with the condition every day. We would like to welcome everyone to visit the Novartis AMD testing unit travelling the nation this week to avail of the free AMD eye test.”

For more information on AMD and free AMD testing locations please visit www.AMD.ie

 

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Notes to the Editor:

For more information please contact Edelman:

Anna Duffy | 086 088 928 | anna.duffy@edelman.com

Aoife VanWolvelaere | 086 303 6161 | aoife.vanwolvelaere@edelman.com

 

About Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD):

Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of sight loss in Ireland – almost 100,000 people throughout the country have AMD1, with 7,000 new cases diagnosed each year in the over 50 population2. As the symptoms of AMD can often go unrecognised, it is crucial that people over 50 get their eyes tested regularly so that if there are any signs of AMD it can be diagnosed and treated as early as possible. AMD affects the macula at the back of the eye, which is responsible for central vision and allows you to see detail.

There are two types of AMD: dry and wet. Dry AMD is the most common (80-90%) and also the mildest form of the condition3. In this type, there are typical age changes such as age spots or ‘Drusen’ in the macula. Very often patients with Dry AMD maintain good central vision, needing perhaps more magnification and lighting for reading. A small percentage of patients with Dry AMD will develop more severe dry changes with consequential progressive difficulty with reading and fine vision. At this time, there is no known cure for Dry AMD, but progression can be slowed by stopping smoking, eating a healthy diet rich in Lutein (found in the leafy green vegetables), and looking after cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol. Dry AMD usually affects both eyes. Dry AMD can progress to Wet AMD. Wet AMD is caused by leaky blood vessels inside the eye. It is less common than dry AMD but it can cause more rapid loss of vision. It is responsible for 90% of the cases of severe vision loss4. It results in new, weak blood vessels growing behind the retina5. The good news is that while wet AMD can develop quickly in the majority of cases, if diagnosed and treated early, as much sight as possible can be saved and some people may even see an improvement in their eyesight6.

 

References:

1 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. (http://bjo.bmj.com/content/early/2015/02/23/

bjophthalmol-2014-305768.)

2 The Cost of Sight Loss Report NCBI 2011

3 http://www.eyedoctors.ie/your-eye-health/eye-conditions.asp

4 Arnold et al. BMJ 2000;321:741-744 Clinical Evidence AMD.

5 www.amdalliance.org/information/basicfacts/typesofamd. php Accessed 3 Sept 2008

6 http://www.nei.nih.gov/health/maculardegen/armd facts.asp Accessed 3 Sept 2008

 

The Novartis AMD Testing Unit Will be Visiting the Following Locations During AMD Awareness Week:

Dublin on Tuesday, 26th September:

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

Waterford on Wednesday, 27th September:

  • Waterford Health Park, Slievekeale Road, Waterford, from 10am- 1pm
  • Ardkeen Shopping Centre, Waterford from 2pm – 6pm

Limerick on Thursday, 28th September:

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

Galway on Friday, 29th September:

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

Cork on Saturday, 30th September:

  • Cork Golf Club, Little Island, Co. Cork from 10am-1pm
  • Mahon Point Shopping Centre, Link Road, Co. Cork from 2pm – 6pm

 

For a full list of optometrists participating in AMD Awareness Week please visit www.amd.ie

 

About the 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 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 www.aoi.ie

 

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 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 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 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: www.healthyireland.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.