This year we braved the elements once again at the National Ploughing Championships for the second year. Our stand was packed with activity for all to get involved. We had a true / false game, virtual reality headsets which gave an idea of what it is like to have Age related macular degenerations (AMD), the NCBI AMD Aware App on iPads for visitors to try, an area for people to test the simulation spectacles and a tandem bike outside for people to try out.
The CEO of the National Ploughing Association, Anna May McHugh, joined with the National Council for the Blind of Ireland in calling for people to prioritise regular sight tests, with an emphasis on Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD).
Anna May participated in an AMD test with Consultant Ophthalmologist, Mr. David Keegan. She said, “It is so important that people take care of their sight. I take my sight seriously and if that means going for a simple test, I am happy to do that. It is a painless and easy test and only takes a few minutes. The NCBI is always urging people to go for regular sight tests and I agree as it staves off trouble down the road. Early detection is so important. I am delighted to participate in this AMD test.”
David Keegan, Consultant Ophthalmologist explains that the condition can affect anybody but particularly the over 55’s. “It is a condition which affects the back of the eye and is characterised by some specific changes. There is a genetic component but it is not simple genetics. It is a complex genetic disease in that there are multiple genetic alternations that all lead to increased risk in the individual”. He adds “While we don’t know how to prevent AMD we do know what we can do to reduce the risk of somebody getting it. Apart from any inherited pre disposition, the biggest single risk factor is smoking. High blood pressure is also a risk factor. So basically no smoking, check your blood pressure and eat a diet rich in carotenoids and please get your eyes tested regularly.”
Mr Keegan stresses that people in the ‘at risk’ age bracket should not put failing sight down to old age. “Old age in of itself does not cause vision loss; it can be associated with it but does not cause it. So if you are experiencing problems with your vision go and see an eye specialist and let him or her take it from there.”
The National Ploughing Championships gave NCBI a great platform to raise awareness of sight loss and to be on hand to provide advice and information to the public throughout the three days.