Simple eye test you can do at home could save your vision - Canadians urged to set their sights on the Amsler Grid

    TORONTO, Sept. 22 /CNW/ - Thirty seconds is all it takes - less time than
it takes to brush your teeth. But spending 30 seconds on a test called the
Amsler Grid could have powerful implications: it could prevent you from
suddenly losing your sight.
    The Amsler Grid is a simple test for an eye disease called wet
age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of significant
vision loss in Canadians over 50.
    The devastating disease develops quickly, often in a matter of days or
weeks, robbing people of their central vision. For the 100,000 Canadians
affected with wet AMD, there is no cure, but proven treatment is available.
However, treatment is much more effective when the disease is caught early,
unfortunately by the time most people notice signs of wet AMD or seek help,
much of the damage has already been done.
    "AMD is the leading cause of vision loss in Canadians and affects 55 per
cent of the people that come to CNIB. In fact, it is the leading cause of
vision loss in the developed world," says Dr. Keith Gordon, Head of Research,
CNIB. "By using the Amsler Grid as a first form of detection, Canadians can
prevent much damage to the eye."
    September 21-27, 2008, is Macular Disease Awareness Week in Canada. To
mark the week, CNIB and AMD Alliance International are urging the public to
make the Amsler Grid a part of their daily or weekly routine.
    "Wet AMD is striking in epidemic proportions," says Dave Herman, Chair,
AMD Alliance International. "But there is something we can all do about it.
The Amsler Grid is your best first line of defense to catch it in the earliest
stages. It's easy, and you can do it at home."
    Although CNIB and AMD Alliance International recommend the test for all
adults, it is even more critical for those who have particular risk factors
for wet AMD. The major, proven risk factors for the condition include:

    -   Age (wet AMD often affects people over 50, although you can develop
        the disease at any age)
    -   Smoking, or having a past history as a smoker
    -   Having a family history of macular degeneration
    -   Having the dry form of macular degeneration, which can develop into
        the wet form of the disease.

    The test consists of a large grid with a dot in the middle. People taking
the test cover one eye and look to see if any of the lines on the grid appear
wavy, blurred or otherwise distorted. Then they repeat with the other eye. The
grid should be placed on a refrigerator or at eye level in any area where
people will be reminded to use it frequently.
    "The Amsler Grid is a 30 second investment that could save your sight,"
says Don Curran, International Patient Ambassador for AMD Alliance
International. "Using the grid is one of the best things you can do for
yourself. We'd like people to spread the word about it, particularly if you
know someone who is at risk in your family."
    The Amsler Grid is a self test tool; it is not a substitute for regular
medical advice or eye tests. To download a free copy of the Amsler Grid and
instructions on how to use it, visit

    About AMD

    AMD is a degenerative disease that affects the macula, located in the
central part of the retina - the area responsible for central vision, which
allows people to read, drive and recognize faces. AMD causes more than 30
million cases of visual loss worldwide each year.

    About CNIB

    CNIB is a nationwide, community-based, registered charity committed to
public education, research and the vision health of all Canadians. CNIB
provides the services and support necessary to enjoy a good quality of life,
while living with vision loss. To learn more, please visit or call

    About AMD Alliance International

    AMD Alliance International is a global non-profit coalition of vision,
research and seniors' organizations working to raise awareness of macular
disease, the leading cause of vision loss in older populations. Members
promote regular eye examinations and provide education about prevention,
treatments, rehabilitation and support services available for people with AMD
and their families, friends and caregivers. Comprised of 60 member
organizations in over 22 countries, the AMD Alliance International is the only
global body focused exclusively on macular disease.

For further information:

For further information: Ontario and Quebec: Jessica Parrales,
Communications Manager, (416) 486-2500, ext. 7570; Western Canada: Deborah
Churchill, Communications Manager, (604) 431-2174; Eastern Canada: Debbie
Ryan, Communications Manager, (709) 754-1180, ext. 238

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