Macular degeneration was put under the microscope on Thursday 12 July 2012 when Australian and international experts met to develop a road map for the management of 'wet' age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of blindness in Australia.
Convened by the US-based Angiogenesis Foundation, in conjunction with the Australian Macular Degeneration Foundation, the Australian Wet age-related macular degeneration Summit brought together world experts in angiogenesis and AMD including researchers, clinicians, scientists, and advocates to share key perspectives and discuss strategies for improving the advocacy, treatment, and vision outcomes for the 'wet' form of age-related macular degeneration.
The Sydney Summit follows meetings in Bogota, Colombia in March 2012 and the inaugural International wet AMD Expert Summit, held in Berlin in November 2011. These Summits form the basis of a global campaign which identifies key issues, challenges and solutions related to the treatment of wet AMD.
A key outcome of the summit will be a major report based on the findings of this landmark event; the report will provide a road map for the future management of wet AMD in Australia and is scheduled to be released in October 2012.
President of the Angiogenesis Foundation, Dr William Li said, "Restoring the body's natural control of angiogenesis (blood vessel growth) is a new, comprehensive approach to fighting disease. We have taken the leanings of angiogenesis to develop a global campaign that unites the efforts of all countries to improve the outcomes for wet age-related macular degeneration."
"It is clear that Australia is a world leader in the management and treatment of macular degeneration. In particular the Macular Degeneration Foundation's dedication to research and the outstanding results of its awareness campaigns means that Australia is a perfect partner to host this important meeting as part of our global campaign," said Dr Li.
Julie Heraghty, CEO of the Macular Degeneration Foundation says, "We are honoured to have a global leader in Dr Li working with us. A brilliant Harvard graduate and world leading scientist,Dr Li has a wealth of insights to share with us. His ground breaking work in angiogenesis is outstanding and has focused on improving health outcomes for individuals and populations affected by cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and more than 70 other blood vessel-dependent diseases."
Dr Li's work examining the role of new treatments, biomarkers and even dietary factors to prevent diseases ranging from cancer, obesity, Alzheimer's disease and now macular degeneration is critical to finding reasons and answers for this disease."
"It is also a privilege to hold the Summit in the Utzon room, in the Sydney Opera House. This is Australia's most iconic building designed by world famous architect Jorn Utzon, who sadly lost his sight to macular degeneration in the latter part of his life," said Heraghty.
Macular degeneration leads to loss of central vision, affecting the ability to read, drive, recognise faces and perform every day activities. One in seven Australians over the age of 50 (one million people) have some evidence of MD; this number would increase by 70% to 1.7 million by 2030 in the absence of prevention and treatment.
In 2010, more than 110,000 Australians had wet AMD which is the dramatic, severe and sudden form of the disease and where early detection and treatment can save sight.
Angiogenesis in the eye results in wet AMD and is characterised by growth and leaking of abnormal blood vessels under the macula. Wet AMD related angiogenesis underlies the major causes of blindness in developed and developing nations and is a chronic disease requiring lifetime treatment.
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12 July 2012