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MDFA to distribute toolkits ahead of Macula Month

13/03/2019By Myles Hume
Macular Disease Foundation Australia (MDFA) will distribute digital toolkits to eyecare providers ahead of its month-long national awareness campaign, which this year will maintain a sharp focus on hereditary links associated with the disease.

Spanning the month of May, the organisation is urging eyecare professionals to support Macula Month, and will commence its campaign by providing digital imagery and messaging to optometrists and ophthalmologists, allowing them to capitalise on MDFA’s wider public efforts.

MDFA CEO Ms Dee Hopkins hopes the campaign – extended from one week to one month this year – will result in optometrists seeing an increase in people seeking macula checks throughout Macula Month and beyond.

This year the MDFA will focus on educating the public about the hereditary and familial aspects of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a message Hopkins believed was not filtering through.

“We’d like to work more collaboratively with eye health professionals throughout the macular disease patient journey.”
Dee Hopkins, MDFA

According to MDFA, research shows the risk of AMD is greatly increased by having a first-degree relative (sibling or parent) with the disease. Additionally, the age of disease onset is often earlier.

“Although not strictly hereditary, AMD does have a strong familial link and there are certain genes that have been found to be associated with AMD. A person with a parent or sibling with AMD has a 50% risk of developing it. It is estimated that genetic factors play a role in up to 70% of cases,” Hopkins said.

“We’ve been asking callers to our National Helpline – members of the macular disease community – what they know about the hereditary nature of AMD, and many express surprise. They say they haven’t been told about the hereditary risk, and so they haven’t told their own children and siblings that they are at risk.”

She added: “On first diagnosis of AMD, patients receive a lot of information and have a lot to process – it may be that the information just isn’t being absorbed. That’s where MDFA can help. We’d like to work more collaboratively with eye health professionals throughout the macular disease patient journey.”

Hopkins said the organisation assists clients by providing information about disease and reinforcing diet and lifestyle advice. It also helps direct patients to the various support services.

Macular Month will run from May 1–31.

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