The Macular Degeneration Foundation is holding a series of community information sessions in New England on ‘macular degeneration’, the leading cause of blindness in Australia.
Macular degeneration causes progressive loss of central vision affecting the ability to read, recognise faces, drive and see colours clearly. One in seven Australians over the age of 50 are affected by macular degeneration and this climbs to one in three for people over the age of 75.
A recent study by the Centre for Eye Research Australia (CERA) and Access Economics examined the impacts of macular degeneration as well as the current and future economic costs to Australia. The study revealed that age-related macular degeneration costs Australians A$2.6 billion a year. The research also identified that a treatment capable of reducing the progression rate of the disease by only ten per cent would save A$5.7 billion over the next twenty years.
The upcoming information sessions on macular degeneration will focus on how to reduce the risk of developing macular degeneration and necessary lifestyle changes for those living with the disease including families, friends and carers. Treatment options will also be explained and there will be advice on support services as well as displays of low vision aids to help maintain independence and quality of life.
Julie Heraghty, Chief Executive Officer of the Macular Degeneration Foundation, stated, “These sessions are vitally important as the loss of vision caused by macular degeneration cannot be reversed. Nonetheless, by following diet and lifestyle recommendations its progression can be slowed or even halted, which is one of the reasons why we promote awareness of the disease. As we get older maintaining our vision should play a major role in the overall management of our health, so remember to have your macula checked as part of regular eye examinations.”
“If you smoke or a member of your family has macular degeneration your chances of developing the disease are higher, so regular ‘macula checks’ are even more important for these groups,” stated Ms Heraghty.
The events will be held in Armidale, Glen Innes, Inverell and Tamworth. Attendees are encouraged to RSVP on the Foundation’s free call helpline 1800 111 709. A gold coin donation would be appreciated to help cover the costs of organising the session.
14 March 2006