Following on from a successful Macular Week which took place between the 23–30 June, the Macular Society has urged more research into the disease to help both raise awareness and increase funding into research.
According to the charity, macular disease is the biggest cause of sight loss in the UK, with around 300 people diagnosed daily, including adults and children. Warning that macular disease is now more prevalent than dementia it is forecast to become an epidemic unless an extra £6 million per year is invested in research.
Chief executive of the Macular Society, Cathy Yelf, said: ‘Macular disease is cruel and isolating. Day-to-day we hear from people about the devastating impact it has on their lives – taking away their dreams and plans for the future. And yet, despite its devastating impact, too little is known about its causes and for the majority of people affected there is not even a treatment, let alone a cure.’
High Street opticians Vision Express has partnered with the Macular Society during the week to help it in its bid to highlight that more awareness of macular conditions is needed.
The cause of macular disease can be divided roughly into two categories; Age-Related Macular Degeneration (ARMD) and Juvenile Macular Dystrophies. There are many forms of macular disease, but ARMD is the most common, usually affecting people over the age of 50.
ARMD affects central vision – it may become blurry or distorted and gaps or dark spots may appear. As ARMD progresses, your ability to see clearly will change. However, it’s important to remember that no matter how advanced your macular degeneration is, you will not lose all your sight as there is always some peripheral vision remaining.
The older we are the greater our risk of developing ARMD. Around one in every 200 people has ARMD at 60. However, by the age of 90 it affects one person in five. We are all living longer so the number of people affected is increasing.
Juvenile macular dystrophies (JMD) affects people in different ways. However, as the dystrophy progresses, your ability to see clearly will change.
We are seeing increasing numbers of cases here at the OCCS relating to patient anxiety when progressing from dry to wet ARMD. An inevitable consequence of improving longevity and an expectation around quality of life in later years this situation does however present communication challenges for eye care practitioners.
For more information on AMD and JMD visit www.macularsociety.org