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March 13, 2007 > March is National Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) Month

March is National Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) Month

EyeCare America Launches New AMD Program to Address #1 Cause of Legal Blindness in U.S. by Providing Free Educational Materials and AMD Resources to Callers

Many people have Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD), an eye disease that harms the vision in the center of a person's sight. AMD the leading cause of vision loss in people 65 years or older in the United States, affects more than 10 million Americans according to the National Eye Institute.

"There is no cure for AMD, but early detection and treatment may lessen severe vision loss and slow the progression of the disease," said William Tasman, MD, chair of EyeCare America's AMD EyeCare Program.

In honor of "AMD Awareness Month," taking place in March, EyeCare America is launching the AMD EyeCare Program. This year-round program promotes annual eye exams for people 65 and older, raises awareness of AMD, provides the latest information about treatment options and low vision services, offers free AMD educational materials.

What is AMD?
AMD, also known as macular (MAK-yoo-lar) degeneration, means something is wrong with the central area of the retina known as the macula. The retina is made up of layers of nerve cells that sense light and allow you to see.

Someone with macular degeneration might be able to see a clock, but not read the numbers, or when talking to you, not recognize your features. However, AMD usually does not damage the side vision, which is what one uses to get around without bumping into furniture or other objects.

What causes AMD?
Most people who get macular degeneration are over age 50. Usually they lose their central vision slowly over many years. In 10 to 15 % of affected patients, vision loss is sudden if abnormal blood vessels leak fluid or blood under the retina.

The AMD program is specifically designed to:
* Promote eye exams for people who have not yet been diagnosed but are at risk for AMD (Family history, age 65+, smoking, obesity)
* Increase awareness among those at risk for AMD about the disease and the importance of annual eye exams.
* Educate those diagnosed with AMD about available AMD treatment options.
* Inform those diagnosed with AMD about low vision resources and support services that can improve or maintain quality of life.

People can call the toll-free helpline at 1-866-324-EYES (3937) anytime, for themselves and/or family members and friends, to request free AMD educational materials or to see if they qualify for a free eye exam care from one of EyeCare America's 7,300 volunteer ophthalmologists nationwide.

EyeCare America offers multiple eye care programs for which individuals may qualify. Interested callers will automatically be screened to determine the program that provides the most appropriate eye care services. Callers who have not seen an ophthalmologist in three or more years may be eligible to receive a comprehensive medical eye exam and, in most cases, up to one year of care at no out-of-pocket cost for any disease diagnosed during the initial exam.
Eyeglasses, medicines, hospital services and fees of other medical professionals are not included.
Callers who have not had an eye exam in the past 12 months and who are also at increased risk for glaucoma, may be eligible to receive a glaucoma eye exam through our Glaucoma EyeCare Program. Those without insurance receive the exam at no charge.

The AMD EyeCare Program is co-sponsored by Alcon, Inc., Bausch & Lomb, Inc., Genentech, Inc., Novartis Ophthalmics and Pfizer Ophthalmics

About EyeCare America
Established in 1985, EyeCare America, the public service program of the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, is committed to the preservation of sight, accomplishing its mission through public service and education. EyeCare America provides eye care services to the medically underserved and for those at increased risk for eye disease through its corps of 7,300 volunteer ophthalmologists dedicated to serving their communities. More than 90 percent of the care made available is provided at no out-of-pocket cost to the patients. EyeCare America includes programs for seniors, glaucoma, diabetes and children, and is the largest program of its kind in American medicine. Since its inception, EyeCare America has helped more than 860,000 people. EyeCare America is a non-profit program whose success is made possible through charitable contributions from individuals, foundations and corporations. More information can be found at:

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