New Organization Builds International Awareness About Leading Cause of Legal Blindness

First Initiative Reveals 8 out of 10 Adults are not Familiar With the Leading Cause of Blindness The AMD Alliance International, a nonprofit alliance of vision and seniors organizations, officially launched efforts today to raise the awareness level of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) -- the leading cause of legal blindness for people over 50 in the Western world. The Alliance also announced research results revealing that only 2 percent of all adults surveyed think AMD is the leading cause of severe sight loss for people 50 and over, and 82 percent are "not familiar" with AMD.* "The recent study commissioned by the AMD Alliance International shows that consistently, across all countries, the general public is not aware of AMD (a major cause of blindness), how to detect it or the available options for its treatment and rehabilitation," said Dr. Robert Thompson, chairman of the AMD Alliance, chairman of the Macular Disease Society in the United Kingdom, and an individual who was personally diagnosed with AMD approximately six years ago. "It is the mission of the Alliance to change that." Early detection through self-tests and visits to an eye care specialist is key, because vision lost cannot be regained. Early diagnosis offers an opportunity to get involved early enough to make the greatest impact. The international study revealed, however, that only 13 percent of adults surveyed believe the main purpose of having an eye examination is to detect eye disease at an early stage.* And although eye exams are typically recommended approximately every two years, more than one-third of those surveyed claim having eye exams as infrequently as once every three years or never at all.* While there is currently no cure for AMD, those diagnosed with the condition may maintain independent lifestyles through treatment and rehabilitation options such as low vision aids (e.g., strong reading or telescopic lenses, etc.), support services and learned activities of daily living. The study, however, revealed that 75 percent of all adults surveyed are not aware of treatment options for AMD.* AMD is a degenerative eye disease that causes loss of central vision, leaving only peripheral, or side, vision in tact. Approximately 25-30 million people around the world are affected by AMD, yet awareness and understanding remains extremely low. The AMD Alliance International is a nonprofit alliance of international vision and seniors organizations striving to bring knowledge, help and hope to individuals and families around the world affected by AMD. The Alliance Board of Directors is currently comprised of organizations representing the countries of Austria, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain (in discussion), Switzerland, United Kingdom and the United States. For more information, visit the AMD Alliance Web site at . *Research Source: Survey among representative samples of 6,951 adults from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, U.K. and U.S. commissioned by AMD Alliance International, May 1999. ots Original Text Service: The AMD Alliance International Internet: Contact: Lauren Mason, 404-877-1874, or , or Jennifer Wardrep, 404-877-1872, or , both of Ketchum for The AMD Alliance International

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