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Macular Degeneration Foundation Research Grants 2012

Title: Comparison of the risk factor, quality of life and utility value profile of a large Age-related Macular Degeneration patient sample with a population-based cohort

Primary investigator: Professor Paul Mitchell

Location: The University of Sydney

BIOGRAPHY Professor Paul Mitchell

Professor Paul Mitchell, MBBS, MD, PhD, FRANZCO, FRACS, FRCOphth, FAFPHM, is Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology & Eye Health, Westmead Clinical School, University of Sydney.Professor Paul Mitchell is a world renowned medical retinal specialist and Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of Sydney, and Director of Ophthalmology for the Sydney West Area Health Service. His clinical work focuses on the management of AMD, diabetic and other vascular retinopathies and on systemic diseases and their effects on the eye. His research has targeted the epidemiology of eye disease and clinical aspects of retinal diseases. Professor Mitchell has made significant contributions in the fields of public health and ophthalmic epidemiology via the landmark Blue Mountains Eye Study (BMES), the first large Australian population-based study of age-related eye disease, already yielding almost 300 international publications including in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). The study examined prevalence, incidence, risk factors and impacts of the key causes of vision loss, vascular events, hearing, nutrition and other findings of systemic-ocular links, and key impacts of visual impairment on independent living and quality of life.


The aim of this study is to gain a deeper understanding of the risk factor profile of people who are seeking treatment for late-stage Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD). This will build on the invaluable data obtained from Professor Mitchell's landmark Blue Mountains Eye Study. Using an innovative approach, the study will assess the impact of AMD on quality of life, identify the prevalence of AMD-specific genes and determine the primary barriers to accessing treatment. Importantly, this study will shed new light on the link between modifiable risk factors (e.g. nutrition, body weight and smoking) and non-modifiable factors (e.g. genetic predisposition). A key outcome of the research will be an enhanced capacity for early identification of people at a high risk of disease progression. People at higher risk will be better equipped to modify their lifestyle in order to slow the progression of their disease and improve their quality of life.