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New Regional Group Fights Blindness

18 March 2005

New Regional Group Fights Blindness

Blindness organisations across the Asia Pacific have launched an organisation to fight the No 1 cause of blindness in developed countries; Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD).

The inaugural meeting of the AMD International Asia Pacific Regional Council today called for united actions by health professionals and government to manage “the coming AMD epidemic.”

“The World Health Organisation recently elevated AMD to the third leading cause of blindness globally and the leading cause of blindness in developed countries like New Zealand. As populations age, we will experience an epidemic of low vision and blindness caused by AMD,” said Chris Inglis, Divisional Manager, Blindness Awareness and Prevention, Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind (RNZFB).

The inaugural meeting of the new organisation in Melbourne was attended by RNZFB, the Macular Degeneration Foundation Australia, and retina associations and blind societies from Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong.

Macular Degeneration hits people as they age. It damages the retina's macula, which is critical to central vision.

“It is estimated that 1 in 20 New Zealanders over age 50, and 1 in 5 over age 75, have AMD. As Baby Boomers age, this number will skyrocket,” said Ms Inglis. “Early detection is crucial, as any vision lost to AMD can never be regained.”

ENDS

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