Best-Selling Author, Sinead Moriarty, Urges Over 50s to Begin A New Chapter and Get Tested for AMD

Media Release

August 29, 2014

Best-Selling Author, Sinead Moriarty, Urges Over 50s to Begin A New Chapter and Get Tested for AMD

One in ten people in Ireland, aged over 50, are living with AMD1

Best-selling author Sinead Moriarty joined forces with broadcaster Mary Kennedy to encourage people who are over 50 to avail of free testing for Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD), an eye disease which can lead to blindness. One in ten people in Ireland over the age of 50 have AMD, many of whom may be undiagnosed (1,2).The ‘Begin Your New Chapter’ campaign for AMD Awareness Week 2014, which takes place from Monday 15th – Sunday 21st September, is highlighting how AMD can impact a person’s ability to read and is encouraging people to protect their eyesight with regular eye tests.

The NCBI – the national sight loss organisation, Fighting Blindness, the Irish College of Ophthalmologists (ICO) and the Association of Optometrists Ireland (AOI), supported by Novartis, have developed this awareness campaign to help prevent further sight loss in Ireland. Regular eye tests for those aged over 50 can identify the early signs of AMD, ensuring that the disease can be diagnosed and treated as early as possible.

A dedicated Novartis mobile testing unit will offer free AMD testing in various locations nationwide for AMD Awareness Week. The mobile unit will visit Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick and Waterford between Tuesday 16th and Saturday 20th of September offering free AMD eye testing and information to the general public. Since 2008, over 4,300 people have been tested during AMD Awareness Weeks, with 8% of people being referred to their local eye doctor for further testing and diagnosis (3). Free AMD testing will also be available in participating optometrists nationwide. For more information on AMD and the testing locations please visit www.AMD.ie.

AMD is the leading cause of blindness for people over the age of 50 in Ireland, with over 7,000 new cases in Ireland every year (4). The main symptoms of AMD are slightly blurred vision, wavy lines or a blind spot in the centre of the field of vision.  There are two types of AMD; dry and wet.  Dry AMD is the most common form of the condition and develops slowly, eventually leading to loss of central vision; there are currently no proven treatments for dry AMD.  Wet AMD is caused by leaky blood vessels inside the eye and is less common than dry AMD but it can cause more rapid loss of vision.  The good news is that while wet AMD can develop quickly (4), in the majority of cases, if diagnosed and treated early, your vision can be maintained and some people may even see an improvement in their eyesight (5).

Speaking at the launch of the testing campaign, best-selling author Sinead Moriarty explained why she is encouraging people over 50 to look after their eyes and get tested for AMD. “Reading is a favourite pastime for so many people, regardless of age, and something I have always been passionate about. We want to reach those at risk of developing AMD by making them think about the potential loss of the joy of reading if their eyesight was to deteriorate due to undiagnosed AMD. This campaign hopes to inspire people to connect their love of reading with protecting their eyesight and encourage them to get their eyes tested regularly”.

AMD Awareness Week encourages anyone who is worried about their eyesight to speak to a healthcare professional and get their eyes tested. For more information on AMD and the testing locations please visit www.AMD.ie.

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For more information please contact:

Anna Moran, External Affairs Manager

anna.moran@fightingblindness.ie / 01 6789 004