More than 60 per cent of Australians are unaware of the strong familial risks associated with Australia’s leading cause of blindness, putting their direct family members at risk of vision loss, says Macular Disease Foundation Australia (MDFA) Patron Ita Buttrose AO OBE.
“People with siblings or parents with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) are in a high-risk category and have a 50 per cent chance of getting the disease,” Ms Buttrose said.
“The best defence against vision loss from AMD are awareness and early detection.”
To coincide with Macula Month, which runs throughout May, Macular Disease Foundation Australia (MDFA) commissioned two YouGov Galaxy surveys targeting both the general population and Australians with AMD.
They showed that:
• 63 per cent of the general population don’t know there’s a familial risk associated with AMD
• Among Australians diagnosed with AMD, only half (50.1 per cent) are aware of the hereditary connection – of those, many dramatically underestimate the risk
• Of the people who do understand the familial connection, almost one third (29 per cent) have not told all relevant family members they may be at risk themselves
• Only one in three (33.2 per cent) of those with AMD recalled being informed about the potential familial risk by their eye health professional.
AMD – a painless, progressive eye disease that destroys central vision – is the most common macular disease, accounting for 50 per cent of all cases of blindness and severe vision loss in Australia.
* One in seven Australians over the age of 50 – almost 1.3 million people – already have some evidence of AMD.