The last two years have seen a massive increase in the Australian public’s awareness of Macular Degeneration (MD), placing Australia as a world leader in the field, according to new research released by the MD Foundation (MDF).
While only 47 per cent of people surveyed in a February 2007 National Galaxy Poll were aware of MD, this rose to 72 per cent in September 2009.
Although MD (sometimes known as age-related MD or AMD) is the leading cause of blindness and severe vision loss in Australia and affects 25 to 30 million people over 50 years of age in the Western world, awareness of the disease in Australia had been dangerously low.
“The Foundation was alarmed at low awareness levels from polling results received in February 2007, especially considering Australia’s ageing population and the importance of early detection in saving sight,” said MDF Chief Executive Officer Julie Heraghty.
“The MDF was determined to turn this around, and we embarked upon a significant TV, radio and print campaign combined with unique projects. We were supported by outstanding partnerships and Government recognition of the importance of eye health,” Ms Heraghty explained.
The survey found that the overall population awareness figure for MD had increased by 53 per cent and that the population awareness figure for those aged over 50 had increased by 48 per cent. Awareness that MD affects the eyes increased by 90 per cent and the number of people aged over 50 who had had their macula checked increased by 75 per cent.
The research also found that more than 58 per cent of those 50 years and over have had their macula checked in the past two years, an increased of 75 per cent since February 2007.
Ms. Heraghty said optometrists across Australia were reporting that the Foundation’s awareness campaign was driving those at risk of MD to not only have their eyes tested, but also to ask about their macula