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March is National AMD Month

EyeCare America Offers No-Cost Medical Eye Care to Qualified Seniors
In Support of National AMD Month – March 2009

March 2, 2009 – San Francisco, CA – Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of vision loss in people 65 years or older in the United States. According to the National Eye Institute, AMD affects more than 10 million Americans. Macular degeneration refers to the breakdown of the macula of the eye, where our sharpest central vision occurs. A person with macular degeneration may be able to see a clock on a wall, but not see the numbers, or walk into a room without bumping into furniture. Words may look blurred and straight lines may appear crooked.

As our population ages, and the "baby boomers" advance into their 60's and 70's, we will see a virtual epidemic of AMD. In fact, according to the National Eye Institute, it is estimated that Americans with moderate to severe AMD will reach 17 million by the year 2020.

In support of National AMD Month this March 2009, EyeCare America encourages all seniors to see if they qualify for an eye exam at no out-of-pocket cost available through its AMD EyeCare Program by calling 1-866-324-EYES (3937). Recent studies also show that eating foods rich in antioxidants such as lutein, zeaxanthin, omega-3 fatty acids, beta carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E and zinc, may reduce the risk of AMD, or slow its progression in some people. In light of this, EyeCare America has developed a cookbook called Feast Your Eyes on This! which includes eye healthy recipes from celebrity chefs from across the United States.  The complete cookbook is available for FREE online at www.eyecareamerica.org.

“Blindness and vision impairment have enormous personal, social and economic costs, limiting the activities of otherwise healthy and active people,” said William Tasman, MD, Chair of EyeCare America’s AMD EyeCare Program. “EyeCare America bridges the gap between the senior community and the quality eye care they need. By increasing awareness of eye diseases such as AMD and its risk factors, and connecting more people with exams and care, EyeCare America works to reduce preventable blindness in the U.S. thereby enabling older Americans to see clearly into the future, and  and maintain maximum independence.”

EyeCare America’s AMD EyeCare Program is a year-round program that 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, and facilitates access to care at no out-of-pocket cost for those who qualify. The eye exams are provided by more than 7,000 dedicated volunteer ophthalmologists across the U.S.  People may call the toll-free helpline at 1-866-324-EYES (3937), anytime, for themselves, family members and/or friends to see if they qualify to be referred to one of our volunteer ophthalmologists, or to request free AMD educational material. 

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. 

The AMD EyeCare Program is designed for people at increased risk for AMD, but who have NOT been diagnosed and who:

  • Are age 65 and older
  • Are U.S. citizens or legal residents
  • Have not seen an ophthalmologist in three or more years
  • Do not belong to an HMO or the VA

Eyeglasses, medicines, hospital services and fees of other medical professionals are not included.

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 7,000 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, AMD and children, and is the largest program of its kind in American medicine.  Since its inception, EyeCare America has helped more than 1 million 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: www.eyecareamerica.org

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MEDIA CONTACT: Allison Neves, Director of EyeCare America Communications – 415.561.8518, aneves@aao.org

NOTE TO EDITORS AND PRODUCERS: High-resolution images and interviews with EyeCare America spokespeople, physicians and patients available upon request.

 

 

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