Patron, Ita Buttrose AO OBE
Ita Buttrose AO OBE has been Patron of Macular Disease Foundation Australia since 2005. Ita was named Australian of the Year in 2013 and holds the appointment of Officer of the Order of Australia for her services to the community, particularly in the area of public health education. Ita is National Ambassador of Alzheimer’s Australia and Emeritus Director of Arthritis Australia.
Ita is one of Australia's most admired businesswomen and an accomplished communicator advising corporate as well as community and welfare organisations. She has a wealth of experience across a broad range of industry sectors and combines many roles as social commentator, businesswoman, journalist and author.
As Patron of Macular Disease Foundation Australia, Ita works tirelessly to promote the cause of macular degeneration across Australia.
"My father was in his mid-eighties when he lost his central vision to macular degeneration. It changed his life. As a journalist and author he had always started his day reading a couple of newspapers. Suddenly this was no longer possible.
"As a journalist and author myself I couldn't imagine not being able to ever read again. I was as devastated about Dad's fate as he was.
"One of Dad's sisters also had macular degeneration and their youngest brother was also diagnosed. Fortunately the sight of one of my uncle's eyes has been saved with the help of a treatment for wet macular degeneration. This has been a major breakthrough in the management of the disease and my uncle's doctor has been able to stabilise his vision.
"If only this treatment had been around to help Dad, how happier the last years of his life would have been.
"One thing I have noticed is how few people know that a family history of the disease brings with it a high risk of macular degeneration. When I tell them that I have a 50 per cent chance of getting it too, most people are usually shocked. My children are equally at risk and consequently we all do some kind of regular exercise, watch our weight and follow the eating program recommended by the Foundation.
"I get my macula checked annually and when my ophthalmic surgeon tells me my 'macula is in pristine condition' his words are music to my ears!"