Novartis, in partnership with Macular Disease Foundation Australia, is running a national campaign reminding older Australians it’s more important than ever to have their eyes regularly tested to maintain their eyesight.
Multichannel awareness and education activities are encouraging Australians at risk of AMD to see an eye care professional, and specifically ask to have their macula checked to reduce their risk of losing sight of what’s important. The See What’s Next campaign responds to the alarming fact that Australians over 50 don’t have regular eye examinations to prevent blindness and vision loss.4,5
we believe in the value of partnerships and this is why we are partnering with Macular Disease Foundation Australia as we share the common goal to raise awareness of age related macular degeneration in the community
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) affects one in seven Australians over 50 and is projected to increase with the nation’s ageing population.1 Two-thirds of AMD-related blindness is caused by wet (neovascular) AMD, a condition that often affects the ability to read, drive, recognise faces and perform activities that require detailed vision.6
Wet AMD can be effectively treated with anti-VEGF injections.7 However, of the 133,000 Australians estimated to have wet AMD, PBS data show that less than 51,000 accessed anti-VEGF injections in 2017.2,3 One factor contributing to this under treatment is the fact that many people aren’t having regular eye examinations. A recent survey commissioned by Macular Disease Foundation Australia revealed that one in three Australians over 50 hadn’t had their macula checked in the previous two years.4,5
Driving Patients to Eye Care Professionals
“Macular degeneration, also known as age related macular degeneration (AMD), is the leading cause of legal blindness in Australia, responsible for 50% of all cases of blindness. The early signs of AMD may not always be noticeable, but with wet (neovascular) AMD, the most aggressive form, vision changes are often sudden and severe.
At the Macular Disease Foundation Australia, we believe in the value of awareness and early detection. It is important to have your eyes examined and macula checked by an eye care professional on a regular basis,” said Dee Hopkins, CEO, Macular Disease Foundation Australia.
“At Novartis Australia, we believe in the value of partnerships and this is why we are partnering with Macular Disease Foundation Australia as we share the common goal to raise awareness of age related macular degeneration in the community”, said Richard Tew, General Manager of Novartis Pharmaceuticals Australia and New Zealand.
“We are committed to continue to improve eye health by investing in science and innovation. By working to push the boundaries of medicine and technology, we aim to develop life-changing gene therapies, next-generation pharmaceuticals, and transformative technologies for diseases and conditions spanning every area of eye disease, from the front to the back of the eye.
Leading ophthalmologist, Paul Mitchell, Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of Sydney and Director at the Centre for Vision Research, Westmead Institute for Medical Research, said it is critical that patients with new symptoms of AMD are seen quickly.
“Wet AMD typically causes rapid and severe vision loss, particularly if untreated. Current anti-VEGF therapy has now been shown in many countries to be associated with a major reduction in blindness and visual impairment from wet AMD. As overall AMD prevalence and incidence are exponentially age-related, the ageing of the Australian population is leading to an increase in presentation of wet AMD cases,” said Prof Mitchell.
“It is critical for the best outcomes from treatment of Wet AMD that patients present as soon as possible after developing worsening vision. Regular eye examinations with sensitive testing of retinal function are critical to achieving early diagnosis of wet AMD; the starting vision is the principal determinant of the final vision after treatment, and wet AMD leads to scarring that leads to permanent vision loss. The aim should be the see patients within days or a week or two of new symptoms, or signs indicating possible progression to wet AMD” continued Professor Mitchell.
About Macular Disease Foundation Australia
Macular Disease Foundation Australia (MDFA) was established in 2001 to support people living with or affected by macular degeneration. MDFA is committed to reducing the incidence and impact of macular disease in Australia through education and awareness programs, research, the provision of support services and by representing the best interests of the macular disease community.
Novartis is reimagining medicine to improve and extend people’s lives. As a leading global medicines company, we use innovative science and digital technologies to create transformative treatments in areas of great medical need. In our quest to find new medicines, we consistently rank among the world’s top companies investing in research and development. Novartis products reach nearly 750 million people globally and we are finding innovative ways to expand access to our latest treatments. About 108,000 people of more than 140 nationalities work at Novartis around the world. Novartis has more than 60 years’ history in Australia and employ around 600 associates across its two divisions. For more information, please visit www.novartis.com.au.
1. Macular Disease Foundation Australia. The Journey to See: A Model for Success. Available from: mdfa-s3fs-prod.s3-ap-southeast-2.amazonaws.com/s3fs public/MDFA_JourneyToSee_Brochure_WEB.pdf (accessed August 2019)
2. Macular Disease Foundation Australia. Macular degeneration research update December 2017. Available from mdfa-s3fs-prod.s3-ap-southeast-2.amazonaws.com/s3fs-public/MDFA_ResearchUpdate_2017_WEB.pdf (accessed August 2019)
3. Drug utilisation sub-committee (DUSC). Ranibizumab and aflibercept: analysis of use for AMD, DMO, BRVO and CRVO.
Novartis Pharmaceuticals Australia Pty Ltd, 54 Waterloo Road Macquarie Park NSW 2113. ABN 18 004 244 160 AU-10677 August 2019.
4. RANZCO Media Release. Outcomes for wet macular degeneration. Available from ranzco.edu/media-and-advocacy/media-centre/media-releases/media-release-articles/outcomes-for-wet-macular-degeneration (accessed August 2019)
5. ‘Awareness of macular disease’ survey conducted by YouGov Galaxy, commissioned by Macular Disease Foundation Australia, 2018
6. Macular Disease Foundation Australia. About Macular Degeneration. Available from https://www.mdfoundation.com.au/content/what-is-macular-degeneration (accessed August 2019) 7. Lim, L.S., Mitchell, P., Seddon, J.M., Holz, F.G. and Wong, T.Y., 2012. Age-related macular degeneration. The Lancet, 379(9827), pp.1728-1738.