The Macular Degeneration Foundation of Australia (MDF) has released significant and startling research indicating a massive increase in the Australian public's awareness of macular degeneration (MD). Over the last two years there has been an increase in the MD awareness figure of 53% (from 47% in February 2007 to 72% in September 09).
Although MD is the leading cause of blindness and severe vision loss in Australia and affects 25-30 million people over 50 years of age in the Western world, the awareness of the disease in Australia has to date been dangerously low.
CEO Julie Heraghty said "at the start of worldwide (age-related) MD Week (19-27 September 2009) the MDF's September 2009 National Galaxy poll has placed Australia as a world leader in public awareness of the disease; however we must not become complacent."
"The MDF was alarmed at low awareness levels from polling results received in February 2007, especially considering Australia's ageing population and the importance of early detection to save sight. The Foundation was determined to turn this around and we embarked upon a significant TV, radio and print campaign combined with unique projects. We were supported by outstanding partnerships and Government recognition of the importance of eye health," Ms Heraghty explained.
In February 2007 only 47% of Australians were aware of MD and only 58% of people in the at-risk group for AMD were aware of this disease. Furthermore, only 32% knew this disease affected the eyes and only 1 in 3 over 50+ years had claimed to have had their macula checked. The research showed that most Australians simply did not know where the macula was, let alone that MD affects the eyes.
The September 2009 National Galaxy Poll research shows:
- Overall population awareness figure for MD has increased by 53%
- Population awareness figure for over 50 years has increased by 48%
- Awareness MD affects the eyes - figure has increased by 90%
- Macula checked in the last 2 years for those aged 50+ years - figure has increased by 75%
More than 58% of those 50 years and over have had their macula checked in the past two years which has increased by 75% since February 2007. Optometrists across the nation are reporting the Foundation's awareness campaign is driving those at risk of AMD to not only have their eyes tested but also to ask about their macula. This is a significant result.
"These awareness campaigns are exceptional, however the Foundation will continue to raise awareness to encourage at-risk Australians to visit their Optometrist, have their macula checked and save sight.
“We are beginning to make a significant difference across Australia on this important medical issue. We must not rest until a cure for macular degeneration is found," Ms Heraghty concluded.
Note: The Macular Degeneration Foundation telephone study was conducted in September 2009 by Galaxy Research among a nationally representative sample of 1,100 Australians aged sixteen years and over. The data was post weighted to national proportions using the latest ABS population estimates.
18 September 2009