A federal Government commitment to the National Strategic Action Plan developed by Macular Disease Foundation Australia to save the sight of Australians – backed by a firm commitment of funding – is recognition of the enormous impact macular disease has in our society.
Health Minister Greg Hunt MP has made a pre-budget federal Government commitment of $3million over the next four years.
Macular Disease Foundation Australia (MDFA) CEO Dee Hopkins welcomed Minister Hunt’s endorsement of the Action Plan, which outlines a national, coordinated response and informs how limited health care resources can be better coordinated and targeted across all levels of government.
“Macular disease covers a range of conditions that affect the central retina – the macula – at the back of the eye, robbing people of detailed central vision. It is the leading cause of blindness and severe vision loss in Australia.
“There are approximately 8.5 million Australians over the age of 50 at risk of macular disease. Over 1.7 million Australians are estimated to have some evidence of macular disease already.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) accounts for 50% of blindness in Australia and primarily affects people over 50 years of age. Diabetic Eye Disease (DED) is the leading cause of preventable blindness in working-age Australians – everyone with diabetes is at risk.
“Australia is a world leader in fighting macular disease. Over the past decade, we’ve seen key stakeholders from across the health sector and industry unite to prevent, detect and manage macular disease.
“The ‘roadmap’ outlined in this 44-point action plan will allow this partnership to continue in a coordinated, strategic way. It is built on four ‘pillars’ of action – prevention and early detection; treatment; support for people with macular disease; and data and research,” she said.
“These action points will help reduce – and ideally prevent – the economic, social and emotional costs of vision loss and blindness as a result of macular disease, greatly assisting the members of our community living with macular disease, their families and carers,” Ms Hopkins said.
MDFA’s National Research Advisor and world-leading Ophthalmologist, Professor Paul Mitchell, AO said the Action Plan addresses issues relating to treatment, research and better access and use of available aggregate data.
“Australia is recognised as a world leader in macular disease research and the Action Plan articulates a framework and agenda to enable that sight-saving work to continue in a coordinated way.
“As our population ages and becomes more at risk of age-related macular degeneration, and with a rising prevalence of diabetic eye disease in working aged Australians, the incidence and impact of macular disease will only increase and put additional strain on our healthcare system, which is why this Action Plan is so important,” Professor Mitchell said.