New campaign "Worth a thousand words: Preserve your vision" highlights impact of adult vision loss

11/21/2013

According to the World Health Organization, 75 per cent of vision loss can be prevented or treated.  Today CNIB is launching a national campaign called "Worth a thousand words: Preserve your vision" to raise awareness of the impact of adult-onset vision loss and that many conditions are preventable if diagnosed and treated at an early stage. 

The campaign features a unique photo album of images​​ ​representing key milestones in an average Canadian's life - a birthday, a graduation, a wedding. However, the images have been digitally altered so the milestones are seen as they might be by someone living with either of two of the leading causes of adult-onset vision loss, wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic macular edema (DME). The photo album demonstrates the impact that vision loss can have on the stories of our lives - past, present and future. 

"Every 12 minutes, someone in Canada begins to lose their vision. The earlier an eye disease is detected, the greater the chance of preventing or minimizing associated vision loss through treatment," says Dr. Keith Gordon, Vice President, Research, at CNIB.  A 2012 study showed one in seven Canadian adults may be living with some form of vision loss, much of which could be corrected. 

Many eye diseases develop gradually and have no symptoms in the early stages until they eventually make themselves known with vision loss. The ability to perform daily tasks - reading, driving or cooking - is at risk with the loss of one's vision.  However, with proper support, people who are blind or partially sighted can learn to see beyond vision loss. 

By sharing real stories about people living with wet AMD or DME, the "Worth a thousand words: Preserve your vision" campaign aims to educate Canadians and to raise awareness of the importance of eye health and the impact of vision loss. 

"The goal of this photo album is to give sighted individuals an idea of what the world might look like to those who have two of the most common conditions that result in adult-onset vision loss - wet age-related macular degeneration and diabetic macular edema," explains Dr. Gordon. "It does so by presenting scenes from the lives of everyday Canadians over the past several decades, but showing them as they might appear to those experiencing these conditions." 

About DME and wet AMD

Diabetic macular edema (DME) is a common complication of diabetic retinopathy. It is caused by damage to the blood vessels of the retina and is a leading cause of vision loss in the working-age population in the developed world. It is estimated that vision loss resulting from DME affects approximately 60,000 Canadians, making it a major cause of adult-onset vision loss in Canada.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of severe vision loss for Canadians over the age of 60. There are two types, wet and dry. While only 10-15% of AMD cases are of wet AMD, wet AMD is responsible for 90% of the severe vision loss caused by AMD. Wet AMD is a progressive disease that causes rapid and severe central vision loss and can severely compromise a person's ability to function independently. An estimated 1.4 million Canadians have some stage of AMD and a 2011 study estimated that nearly 90,000 Canadians had vision loss from AMD in 2007. It is anticipated that the number people with AMD will double within the next 25 years due to the ageing of the population. 

This CNIB campaign is a collaboration with one of Canada's leading research-based pharmaceutical companies.

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