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New tests currently unavailable from the NHS will help detect risk factors linked to incurable eye disease AMD

Solihull, 18 September 2007: Midlands-based optometrist Alan Tyler has become the first in the region to offer a new test which will help detect patients’ likelihood of developing the incurable eye disease Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of vision loss in people over the age of 50 in the UK.

Alan Tyler - who has practices in Dorridge, Solihull and Acocks Green, Birmingham - has invested in the first commercially available instrument to help detect one of the major risk factors in the onset of AMD. Called the MacuScope, this new testing instrument, which has only recently become available, measures levels of macular protective pigment density in the eye, low levels of which are a key indicator prior to the symptoms of AMD actually appearing. Age Related Macular Degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in the world today, affecting 27% of the worldwide population over the age of 55 and approximately 500,000 people in the UK.

Although AMD mainly effects people aged 50 and above, the disease can be detected much earlier on in life by analysing physiological changes in the eye itself. It is recommended that a macular pigment assessment is taken by all patients over the age of 30 to help early detection. Such tests, which cost as little as £20, can identify low levels of macular pigmentation. If levels are low, subsequent dietary changes and supplements can be recommended to help restore pigment density and preserve vision. Detected early, this type of regime can help minimise the risk of AMD occurring in the patient.

Alan Tyler explains: “While there is currently no cure for Age-related Macular Degeneration we can help to prevent its onset by detecting symptoms early. By offering this assessment, currently not offered by the NHS, we hope to save the unnecessary loss of sight for more of our patients. The assessment is painless and non-invasive.”

According to research the number of AMD sufferers is set to double in the next 20 to 30 years and the US-based National Eye Institute believes it will take on ‘aspects of epidemic proportion’. Tom Bremridge, chief executive of the UK’s Macular Disease Society, added: “Early diagnosis of AMD is very important. We are delighted that Alan Tyler Opticians is taking this proactive step to provide better detection of eye disease than is currently available in most opticians. The follow-on advice about nutrition will also be extremely valuable.”

Notes to editors:

About Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD):

1. The macula, a small central part of the retina, is responsible for straight ahead, crisp vision.

2. Degeneration of the macula is the primary cause of central vision loss. To put this into perspective, sufferers can no longer drive, read or even see people’s faces.

3. AMD is the leading cause of blindness in the world today.

4. AMD is not, at present, curable.

5. The disease is classified into two overall categories, wet and dry.

6. 90% of all cases are the dry type, which is age related.

7. Research has established a link between AMD and people who are over 50, smokers, or have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of over 27. Those with a history of AMD in the family are also at increased risk.

8. According to the National Eye Institute of the US, “macular degeneration will soon take on aspects of epidemic proportion.”

For further information on MD and AMD visit The Macular Disease Society’s website at: www.maculardisease.org

For more information about the MacuScope see: www.macuscope.com/Macuscope2.wmv

For details of research related to the disease visit the Macular Pigment Research Group (MPRG) website at: www.wit.ie/mprg

-ENDS-

About Alan Tyler and Alan Tyler Opticians

Alan Tyler is a Midlands-based optometrist with almost forty years of practice experience. He is a Fellow of the British College of Optometrists and Chairman of the Solihull Optical Committee. Alan Tyler’s practices, operating as Alan Tyler Opticians offer a wide range of eye-care services including: eye,examinations, diabetic screening, retinal photography, approved DVLA visual field screening centre, contact lens provision (including kerataconus fitting) with full support staff at both practices. Well known for its innovative approach and superior customer care, Alan Tyler Opticians was the first in England to purchase the MacuScope, following the technology’s success in the US and Ireland.

The company’s two branches are located at:

• 11 Arden Buildings, Station Road, Dorridge, Solihull, B93 8HH
• 291 Fox Hollies Road, Acocks Green, Birmingham, B27 7PS

About The Macular Disease Society

The Macular Disease Society aims to build confidence and independence for those with central vision impairment. It is the only UK charity dedicated to helping people with macular degeneration (MD). The MDS provides information and practical support for visually impaired people, their families and carers.

For further press information and photography, or to arrange an interview, practice visit or complementary MacuScope test, contact:

Sally Bratton, Bratton PR on sally.bratton@brattonpr.com or 020 8582 1961 / 07930 301601


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