Henry Winkler.

WALTHAM, Mass.—Apellis Pharmaceuticals, Inc., (Nasdaq: APLS), a global biopharmaceutical company, has announced a new campaign with acclaimed actor Henry Winkler to raise awareness of geographic atrophy (GA), an advanced form of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and a leading cause of blindness. The GA Won’t Wait campaign helps older adults and their families understand and recognize the symptoms of this progressive and irreversible disease. Together, Apellis and Winkler are empowering people over the age of 60 to monitor and discuss vision changes with an eye doctor, such as a retina specialist, ophthalmologist or optometrist.

Winkler has personally seen how vision loss caused by AMD can affect an individual and their loved ones. His father-in-law Ed, with whom he shared a close relationship, was diagnosed with AMD, causing him to lose his central vision and, ultimately, his independence.

As his vision loss progressed, Winkler recognized that aspects of his father-in-law’s everyday life became increasingly difficult, such as continuing his career in dentistry and eventually doing simple tasks like pouring a glass of water.

“Remembering my father-in-law Ed’s struggle with AMD is why I am partnering with Apellis to help older adults and their families become aware of GA. I saw firsthand how profoundly isolating vision loss may be for older adults,” said Winkler.

“Though I am now around the same age as Ed when his vision started to decline, I have no plans to slow down. I am so passionate about prioritizing my eye health that I would carry my car to the eye doctor if I started to notice a change in my vision. That’s how on top of it you have to be.”

GA is a leading cause of blindness worldwide that impacts approximately one million people in the U.S. Vision symptoms tend to get worse over time and the damage cannot be reversed or corrected with glasses or surgery.

Symptoms include blurry or missing spots in a person’s vision, straight lines seeming wavy, and difficulty seeing in the dark. These symptoms often cause people with GA to lose the ability to take on daily tasks such as reading, driving and recognizing faces.

“It is a common misconception that significant vision loss is a natural part of aging, which can cause patients to delay seeking out important care,” said Caroline Baumal, MD, chief medical officer, Apellis. “An early diagnosis is critical for this progressive disease, so we are thrilled to be working with Henry Winkler to help older adults learn about GA and reinforce that eye health should be prioritized as we age.”

To learn more, visit GAwontwait.com.