Prevent Blindness America and AMD Alliance International Support AMD Prevention Week

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CHICAGO—September 22-30, 2012 is International AMD Week, established to encourage prevention of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Prevent Blindness America (PBA) joins the AMD Alliance International (AMDAI) in highlighting the importance of eye health and overall physical wellness for those at risk for AMD, the leading cause of blindness in adults 50 and over.

To promote awareness for AMD Week, PBA and AMDAI will launch several initiatives. Their strategies include providing free informational materials, advice for prevention, and treatment options, all available online. A video sharing project will also be launched, depicting thousands of people with AMD sharing their experience with the disease using their smartphones as video cameras. The organizations hope this will inspire preventative measures around the world.

“The situation is alarming,” said Hugh R. Parry, PBA president and CEO, and AMDAI chairman of the board. “Too many people simply do not understand the risk factors that lead to AMD and the ways AMD can be prevented or slowed.”

According to a vision problems study from PBA and the National Eye Institute, over 2 million people aged 50 and older are affected by AMD in the US alone, and the number has been increasing. AMD occurs when abnormal blood vessels grow beneath the macula, the portion of the retina which allows sharp central vision.

“Everyone ages 40 and older should have a dilated eye exam and follow their eye doctor’s recommendation for regular eye exams, even if their vision seems perfect,” said Narinder Sharma, president and CEO of AMDAI. “Education and early detection are key to preventing AMD or slowing its advance.”  

In addition to regular eye exams, the organizations recommend taking steps such as maintaining an antioxidant-rich diet, avoiding smoking, and testing vision at home using the Amsler grid, also available on PBA’s website.  

“These behaviors can save the vision of millions of people,” Sharma said.  “That is what makes the 2012 International AMD Week campaign so critical.”