PEOPLE across Limerick are this week being urged to avail of free testing for a worryingly common eye disease known as Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD).
A dedicated Novartis mobile testing unit will offer free AMD testing at Limerick City Library from 10am to 1pm and Castletroy Golf Club from 2pm to 6pm on Thursday September 18 as part of AMD Awareness Week.
Statistics indicate that almost 6,000 people in Limerick over the age of 50 could have AMD, many of whom may be undiagnosed. During AMD Awareness Week in 2012 and 2013, the Novartis mobile unit tested almost 100 people in Limerick for AMD, with more than nine per cent of people being referred to their local eye doctor for further testing and diagnosis.
AMD is the leading cause of blindness for people over the age of 50 in Ireland, even though it is preventable. Its main symptoms are distortion and blurred central vision and it can be treated effectively if diagnosed early.
Dr Marie Hickey-Dwyer, president of the Irish College of Opthamologists and eye doctor at University Hospital Limerick, spoke of the importance of getting tested for AMD to safeguard against eyesight difficulties.
She explained: “The main symptoms of AMD are blurred vision, wavy lines or a blind spot in the centre of the field of vision. People can assume this sort of eyesight deterioration is simply down to old age, but it is very important to see an eye care professional as soon as you notice any change in your vision.
“Although there is no known cure for the dry form of AMD, eye doctors do recommend conservative measures such as eating a healthy diet rich in anti-oxidants, stopping smoking and taking a lutein based vitamin supplement.
“If you are over 50 or have a family history of AMD, it is important to ensure you have regular eye tests to maintain good vision health.”