Macular Disease Foundation Australia (MDFA) has launched a series of community service announcements featuring national icon Ms Ita Buttrose in response to a surge in intravitreal injection cancellations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the announcements that have been issued via 30-second, 60-second, and three-minute videos, MDFA patron Buttrose urges older Australians living with macular disease not to miss sight-saving eye injections because of fear and confusion around public health protocols associated with COVID-19.
The community service announcement rolled out from Sunday evening throughout the Channel 10 news, The Sunday Project and Masterchef, as well as on social media and the MDFA website. It is part of MDFA’s revised Macula Month program in May, in response to challenges posed by the pandemic.
The MDFA stated that Buttrose’s plea follows reports from Australian ophthalmologists of a dramatic increase in the number of patients cancelling essential eye appointments.
This is despite reassurances from RANZCO that eye injections are an essential treatment and therefore exempt from Australian Government ‘stay at home’ regulations.
In the announcements, Buttrose, who has been patron of MDFA for 15 years, calls upon those who require injections for wet neovascular AMD or diabetic macular edema to attend their specialist appointment or discuss treatment options with their ophthalmologist.
“Missing an eye injection can seriously and permanently compromise your vision. You must not miss your sight-saving treatment,” she says.
“I want to stress if you have a scheduled eye injection, if you are a family carer or someone who needs to take a person to a scheduled eye injection, and you have not been in contact with COVID-19, you are not breaching public health measures to attend that appointment.”
The messages also aim to assure people requiring intravitreal injections that clinics are sterile environments and stringent clinical guidelines have been put in place to ensure people’s safety.