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News > Millions unaware of the UK’s leading cause of blindness


Millions unaware of the UK’s leading cause of blindness

Posted on March 29th 2009 - 11:20



Almost half of people aged 50 or over admit to knowing nothing about Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD)


People in the UK are at risk of losing their sight as 44 percent know nothing about the country’s leading cause of blindness, Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD). The results of a new survey of over 1,000 people aged 50 or over revealed that there is confusion around the symptoms and risk factors of AMD.


AMD affects over half a million people in the UK however nine out of 10 people could not identify the key symptoms of AMD correctly; blurred vision, distortion of straight lines and blind spots. In addition, many did not know what increases the risk of AMD with many (70 percent) unaware that smoking is a key risk factor.


Ophthalmologist Mr Kevin Gregory-Evans from Western Eye Hospital and Imperial College London said; "These are alarming findings which mean that thousands could be vulnerable to late diagnosis. In some cases this could lead to avoidable sight loss. I strongly urge people who experience any of the symptoms of AMD, to visit their Optician or GP without delay. I also recommend regular eye health checks with their Optician."


AMD is more likely to affect people aged 55 or over and its prevalence is increasing with the ageing population.5 People can often mistake early symptoms as a ‘just a part of growing older’ meaning that AMD can often remain undiagnosed and in many cases, is only detected when people have lost a significant amount of sight. Half of people with AMD experience visual impairment severe enough to be registered as blind or partially sighted. 


A new campaign, ‘be AMD aware’, has launched today to encourage people aged 55 or over to familiarise themselves with the symptoms of AMD and to have regular eye health checks. The campaign is brought to you by Novartis Pharmaceuticals UK Ltd and supported by the Royal National Institute of Blind People. Print adverts with the tagline ‘Don’t turn a blind eye to AMD’ and TV advertising will be appearing across UK and the www.beAMDaware.co.uk website is available as a first port of call for all those looking for information on AMD. "


AMD has a serious impact on the quality of people’s lives - either through the gradual deterioration of dry AMD or rapidly with wet AMD. Patients often feel that simple things like cooking, using the telephone, and watching the television become difficult. Importantly, no longer being able to drive has a profound impact. Life becomes restricted; people lose some of their independence and have to rely on others much more. We hope the ‘be AMD aware’ campaign helps more people realise they need to look after their eye health, have regular eye checks and be vigilant to the symptoms of AMD, to catch it early." commented Sonal Rughani, Optometrist from the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB). 





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