25 June 2019
Source: Macular Society
National sight loss charity the Macular Society says the only way to stop hundreds of thousands of people losing their sight is to fund much more research.
The charity, which is this week marking its fifth annual awareness week, has highlighted the small amount of money going into macular research, despite the number of people affected by the condition.
Macular disease is the biggest cause of sight loss in the UK, with around 300 people diagnosed every day. It can affect people of any age – even children. The most common type of macular disease is age-related macular degeneration, mainly affecting people over the age of 55. Due to our ageing population, the number of older people living with the condition is set to double in the next 20 years. It is set to be the next public health crisis.
Cathy Yelf, chief executive of the charity, says: “Macular disease is cruel and isolating. It steals your sight, your confidence, your independence, and your ability to do the things you love. Day to day we hear from people about the devastating impact it has on their lives – taking away their dreams and plans for the future.
“And yet, despite its devastating impact, too little is known about its causes and for the majority of people affected there is not even a treatment, let alone a cure.”
She adds: “Today, more and more people are being diagnosed with macular disease. It is already a major public health crisis – with far more people living with macular disease than dementia. We must stop it in its tracks.
That is why this year’s Macular Week will be highlighting why funding more research is the only way we are going to beat macular disease for good.”
In Macular Week, which runs until Sunday 30 June, the Society will be sharing the story of Kelly Ephgrave who was diagnosed with macular disease 29 years ago.
Kelly has an inherited form of macular disease and is now unable to do the jobs she’s trained to do. Devastatingly, a few years ago she found that two of her sons also have the condition. The youngest was only 18 months old at the time.
She said: “I was devastated when my children were diagnosed because they all want to be pilots. Their dad’s a pilot and it’s the only job that they are definitely not going to be able to do. I am trying to be realistic with my children without being negative but I am shutting their dreams down as well.
Research into macular disease is so important to improve the future of people who are living with macular disease. As an adult the list of things I can’t do is getting bigger and bigger and bigger. I don’t want my children to have that. I want my boys to do anything they want to do.”
Watch Kelly’s story on YouTube: https://youtu.be/XTaGsq5CEX4