Prevent Blindness participates in first-ever World Geographic Atrophy Day

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In recognition of global Geographic Atrophy Week, Prevent Blindness is providing free educational resources on GA for patients, care partners and healthcare professionals

An optometrist examines an elderly patient's eyes. Image credit: ©Nadia L/peopleimages.com – stock.adobe.com

Prevent Blindness recognises World Geographic Atrophy Day on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2023, with educational resources and global advocacy. Image credit: ©Nadia L/peopleimages.com – stock.adobe.com

Prevent Blindness is participating in the first World Geographic Atrophy (GA) Day today, Tuesday, 5 December, 2023. The new initiative is recognised as part of the third annual GA Awareness Week, which Prevent Blindness observes from 4 to 10 December this year.

GA is a medical term that refers to later-stage cases of dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD). More than 8 million people in the world have GA, and that figure reflects approximately 20% of all people with AMD, according to the Cleveland Clinic.1

In a news release,2 Prevent Blindness announced several free, educational resources on GA including a dedicated webpage, expert videos, a comprehensive fact sheet and a series of social media graphics. The fact sheet and graphics are available in English and Spanish. This year’s GA Awareness Week is supported by funding from Apellis Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Iveric Bio, an Astellas company.

The goal of the new World GA Day initiative is to empower the voices of the global GA community and provide education, advocacy and support. World Geographic Atrophy Day is a partnership between BrightFocus Foundation, Fighting Blindness Canada, Macular Society and Prevent Blindness, and is supported with funding provided by Apellis Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

According to the news release, Prevent Blindness also will release a new episode in the Prevent Blindness Focus on Eye Health Expert Series. "Advancements in Treatments for Geographic Atrophy" will feature Rajeev S. Ramchandran, MD, MBA, Associate Professor of Ophthalmology, Flaum Eye Institute, University of Rochester Medical Center.2

Ramchandran serves as the volunteer chairperson of the Prevent Blindness Scientific Committee and is a member of its Board of Directors.

Moreover, other Focus on Eye Health Expert Series episodes include “Geographic Atrophy and Patient Support,” featuring Prevent Blindness Ohio past president and CEO Sherry Williams, sharing her story as a care partner for her mother diagnosed with GA; and the “Geographic Atrophy” episode with Janet S. Sunness, MD, medical director of the Richard E. Hoover Low Vison Rehabilitation Services at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center.

The organisation also noted in its release that GA can lead to progression, and patients diagnosed with the disease can suffer permanent vision loss. Patients with GA in one eye are more likely to develop it in the other eye. There may be no symptoms in the early stages until the disease progresses or affects both eyes.2

“The good news is that promising new treatments for GA are now available, with additional options in development,” Jeff Todd, president and CEO of Prevent Blindness, said in the news release. “By working closely with their eye doctors, people with GA have hope to preserve their vision from the damaging effects of GA.”

For GA and/or AMD patients and their care partners, Prevent Blindness also offers the free resource Living Well With Low Vision. The organisation noted in its news release the program includes free directories, a library of self-help guides, downloadable apps including “GuideME for AMD,” access to clinical trial research and recent AMD research news.

The dedicated GA webpage can be found at this link.

References
  1. C.C. medical. What is geographic atrophy?, Cleveland Clinic. Available at: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/24890-geographic-atrophy. Updated April 5, 2023. Accessed November 30, 2023.
  2. Prevent blindness declares third annual Geographic Atrophy Awareness Week as Dec. 4-10, 2023 (2023) Prevent Blindness. Available at: https://preventblindness.org/2023-geographic-atrophy-ga-week/ Accessed November 30, 2023.
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