Tens of thousands of Australians have already discovered their individual risk factors for macular disease through Check My Macula (www.CheckMyMacula.com.au); a short online quiz designed to drive people to their optometrist for a comprehensive eye examination.
Macular Disease Foundation Australia (MDFA) hopes to send even more people into practises this May, as Check My Macula forms the focus of its annual Macula Month awareness campaign.
The quiz aims to improve early detection rates by revealing patients’ personalised risk factors quickly and easily
The bumper Macula Month, which coincides with MDFA’s 20th anniversary, will also include the inaugural Ita Buttrose Oration at Canberra’s National Press Club on Wednesday, 5 May and the allocation of AU$1.1 million of MDFA research funding at Admiralty House later in the month.
But Check My Macula will be the centrepiece of this year’s Macula Month, as MDFA continues to take this sight-saving initiative to the millions of Australians at risk of agerelated macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic eye disease.
“Check My Macula has been a hugely successful tool to educate people over 50 about their risks of macular disease as well as the benefits of regular eye exams,” said MDFA chief executive officer Dee Hopkins.
“The quiz aims to improve early detection rates by revealing patients’ personalised risk factors quickly and easily, then urging them to book an eye exam with an optometrist, or schedule an appointment reminder for the future.
“We hope optometrists will see a spike in the number of people coming in for an eye exam this Macula Month, because early detection can save sight.”
Almost 2,000 optometry practices are already registered for Check My Macula’s ‘Find an Optometrist’ search function. You can see if your practice is one of them by visiting www. CheckMyMacula.com.au/find-an-optometrist. If you can’t find your practice, call MDFA on 1800 111 709 to register, or visit www. mdfoundation.com.au/content/your-practiceregistered- check-my-macula.
MACULA MONTH 2021
As always, it’s easy for eye health professionals across Australia to support MDFA’s annual Macula Month campaign. MDFA has prepared a communications toolkit to help you promote Check My Macula to your patients, including social media posts, media releases that can be tailored to your practice, and an order form for free resources like in-store posters, Amsler grids and publications for your patients.
You can download your toolkit at www. mdfoundation.com.au/resources/toolkits or contact Macular Disease Foundation on (AUS) 1800 111 709. Check My Macula and MDFA’s annual Macula Month campaigns have contributed to the surge in awareness of macular disease – and the number of people having regular eye exams – a new YouGov study has highlighted.1
Among Australians aged 50 to 70, 81% had heard of macular degeneration – up from 58% of over-50s polled in 2007.2
Fourteen years ago, only one in three people in the at-risk 50-plus age group were having a macula check every two years. But in 2021, more than two thirds (68%) of Australians aged 50–70 have had an eye examination and/or macula check in the past two years, more than other routine health checks like cholesterol (66%), bowel cancer screenings (51%), glucose/diabetes (44%) and skin (36%).
The 2021 YouGov study also found that 50-to- 70-year-olds demonstrated broad awareness of diabetic eye disease. Although only 29% had heard of diabetic retinopathy and 26% were aware of diabetic macular oedema, 82% identified the eyes as a body part that diabetes can affect – higher than heart (53%), kidney (68%) and feet (74%).
Those with diabetes are twice as likely as the rest of the population to have had an eye exam or macula check in the past two years.
With growing numbers of over-50s having regular eye exams, Ms Hopkins has encouraged eye health professionals to refer their patients at risk of or living with macular disease to MDFA.
As well as helping you deliver integrated care by providing a practical range of supports to your patients, MDFA can help your practice by encouraging patients to return for regular eye exams, emphasising the importance of treatment adherence, and advising their at-risk family members to get tested.
“With your help, we can have a long-lasting, positive impact on people’s quality of life and promote better patient outcomes for those living with macular disease,” Ms Hopkins said.
- YouGov poll conducted online between 18-22 February 2021 by YouGov. It comprised a nationally representative sample of 1049 Australians aged 50-69 years. The data was weighted by age, gender and region to reflect the latest ABS population estimates.
- Galaxy poll conducted online between 16-18 February 2007 by Galaxy. It comprised a nationally representative sample of 1100 Australians aged 16 years and older. The data was weighted by age, gender and region to reflect the latest ABS population estimates.