One of Australia’s best known personalities Ita Buttrose has called on State, Territory and Federal Governments to do more for older Australians who are at risk of going blind.
Ms Buttrose AC OBE, Patron of the Macular Disease Foundation Australia (MDFA), today launched their new report Investing to Save Sight in Sydney.
Ms Buttrose has been a champion for the macular disease community and has a personal connection with both her late father and uncle being affected by age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
At today’s launch, Ms Buttrose was joined by members of the community living with macular disease or who caring for someone who lives with this condition.
AMD is the leading cause of irreversible vision loss and blindness in Australia. One in seven Australians over the age of 50 have some evidence of AMD or 1.5 million Australians.
80,000 Australians receive regular eye injections for wet AMD and Diabetic Eye Disease. These injections are required on average between five and seven times a year to retain vision and prevent blindness.
But Ms Buttrose says 20% of people will stop treatment in their first year, and 50% of people will stop their eye injections 5 years, putting them at risk of severe vision loss or blindness.
The reasons can be because the cost of the injections can be too expensive for someone on a pension, or for people living in rural and remote areas, the distance too far to travel.
To highlight this problem, Ms Buttrose shared a story of a MDFA community member, Alison, who was forced to stop treatment altogether because of the cost. Alison also had barriers to treatment as she lived on the far south coast and getting to appointments was difficult for a widow in her nineties. She now lives with her daughter in Sydney.
Ms Buttrose shared the economic modelling commissioned by MDFA in the report which paints a brighter outlook for people on treatment for wet AMD with government investment.
The report shows that with modest government investment to make treatment more affordable, services more accessible and more support for people on their treatment journey – savings can be made to government of up to a billion dollars over a decade.
That’s by increasing treatment persistence by 25%, the sight of an additional 22,000 Australians will be saved
“I will be working with the MDFA to champion this report with government.”
“The recommendations are sound and I am hoping that State, Territory and Federal Governments will listen,” Ms Buttrose said.
Posted: 28 April 2023