Mike Thornton MP has joined forces with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) to urge constituents in Eastleigh to learn how to spot the signs of wet Age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the biggest cause of sight loss in the UK.
In Hampshire, 43,640 people were estimated to be living with sight loss in 2011, and experts predict that this number is set to rise to nearly 56,000 by 2020.
There are two main types of AMD, wet and dry. There is no current treatment for dry AMD but sight saving treatment is available for the wet type if diagnosed in time.
RNIB have said that lack of awareness is risking thousands of people's sight each year. Nearly half of adults have never heard of Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and only 36% of adults would make an appointment with their GP or optician straight away if they started experiencing blurry vision or wavy lines.
Mike Thornton MP is supporting RNIB's 'Spot the signs' campaign to encourage over 50s to recognise the early signs of AMD. These are:
• Straight lines start to appear wavy, curved or distorted.
• Small print becomes difficult to read even when wearing reading glasses
• People’s faces start to appear blurry.
Local MP Mike Thornton said, “So often we take our sight for granted, and accept sight loss is just a part of getting older. In fact, up to 50 per cent of sight loss could be avoided and there are things people can do to protect their vision.
"I’d urge everyone to have eye checks at least every two years – spotting a problem early could really make the difference between saving or losing your sight."
Steve Winyard, Head of Policy and campaigns at RNIB, said: "We welcome the support of Mike Thornton MP in raising awareness of the signs of wet AMD. Losing your central vision can have profound consequences, with many people unable to carry out basic tasks such as driving, chopping vegetables, reading a newspaper or writing a shopping list. However, it doesn't have to be this way and people need to be aware of the early sign of wet AMD so they can act quickly and avoid sight loss."
"We're encouraging people over 50 and the medical profession to find out how to spot the signs of wet AMD and understand why it's important to act quickly. About 40,000 people develop wet AMD each year but the deterioration of your sight can be managed with treatment, if caught in time."
RNIB can help you understand the early signs of wet AMD - just google Spot the Signs.
To find out more on how to Spot the signs of AMD and other eye diseases visit www.rnibspotthesigns.org.uk or call RNIB Helpline on 0303 123 9999.