Barcelona, 10th October 2012- Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the first cause of loss of sight in the west in patients aged over 50. Currently, more than 25 million people suffer from this condition worldwide, and this figure increases by 500,000 every year.
In Spain, 26,000 new cases of macular degeneration are detected every year, and more than 3,000,000 are today at risk of developing it over the next few years.
The purpose behind “World Sight Day” is to prevent visual impairment and to foment the recovery of eyesight, it is supported by the Barcelona Macula Foundation (www.barcelonamaculafound.org), a leading scientific institution in research to fight against blindness, among other national and international entities.
Started and fomented by the World Health Organization (WHO), World Sight Day is the initiative which has the greatest impact on public opinion to help prevent blindness, as part of the global initiative «Vision 2020: the right to sight», set up by the WHO and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness.
1 in every 3 individuals will be affected by macular degeneration in the future
According to Dr. Jordi Mones, Director of the Barcelona Macula Foundation, “the increasing age of the population in many countries will result in an increase in the number of people at risk of developing age-related visual impairments, so it is crucial to continue working on current lines of research”.
At the moment, around 65% of people with a visual impairment are over 50. “Most of these suffer from macular degeneration, a disease that affects the part of the retina that is specialized in fine detailed sight and enables us to read or distinguish people’s faces”, explains Dr. Mones. “There are two kinds of AMD: wet and dry. In both cases, in the advanced disease the patient has a very severe visual deficit that can lead to serious visual impairment or even legal blindness”.
New research lines
In 2009, the WHO approved the “Plan of Action for the prevention of blindness and visual impairment", as a way bill for Member States, the Secretary of the WHO and international societies.
In this context, it is worth mentioning the latest developments in the research into new protocols for the prevention and early diagnosis of both types of AMD, especially in its dry or atrophic form.
“We are faced with an illness that is becoming a true epidemic”, explained Dr. Mones. “The most innovative research lines we are working on at the Barcelona Macula Foundation in collaboration with other centres such as the Centre de Medicina Regenerativa de Barcelona (CMRB), the Institut Català de Nanotecnologia (ICN) or the Fundació Vall d’Hebrón, range from the clinical application of new molecules to try to stop the disease progressing, to the use of special lasers and regenerative therapies by transplanting tissues or stem cells”, he concluded.
Barcelona Macula Foundation (www.barcelonamaculafound.org)
The activity of the Barcelona Macula Foundation is focused on basic research to fight against blindness, especially in pathologies related to the macula and the retina, the most prevalent in the older population in developed countries and currently without a cure. The BMF collaborates with prestigious medical and research institutions: such as the Centre de Medicina Regenerativa de Barcelona (CMRB) or the Institut Català de Nanotecnologia (ICN), medical bodies such as Consorci Sanitari de Terrassa, the Hospital Dos de Maig, the Fundació Teknon or the Fundació Vall d’Hebrón and universities such as the Salle, UAB or the UPC.
World Sight Day
World Sight Day is an initiative of the World Health Organization (WHO) which is held on the second Thursday of October. It has the purpose of focusing public attention on blindness, visual disability and the recovery from visual impairments. The annual incidence of wet AMD in the population over 50 in our country is estimated to be around 26,000 new cases every year, with a total affected population of around 350,000 people. Moreover, more than half the new cases with AMD never reach the clinic of the retina specialist.