Actress and model, Dame Twiggy Lawson, famously known to generations as Twiggy, has joined forces with the Macular Society and leader in eye health, Bayer, to remind those over 55 to keep an eye on their vision in a new campaign launching online and on national television today, World Sight Day 2022.

Watch a sneak preview of the campaign's video advert here:

Macular disease is the biggest cause of sight loss in the UK, affecting nearly 1.5 million people, and includes several conditions such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic macular oedema (DMO). AMD is the most common macular condition, affecting around 700,000 people in the UK over 55, while DMO affects over 490,000 people in the UK.

Commenting on the campaign, Dame Twiggy said: “Good eyesight is something many of us take for granted, myself included. I’ve lived most of my life in the public eye and when it comes to vision, most of us don’t think twice about it. When I learned how many people in the UK are affected by macular disease, and of the fantastic work the Macular Society does in supporting people, I knew our campaign could make a real difference. Problems with our eyesight shouldn’t be ignored, especially as we get older.”

Dame Twiggy Lawson fronts the new campaign as part of World Sight Day 2022.

The prevalence of macular disease is expected to grow due to our ageing population, with cases of AMD anticipated to rise by 15% across Europe by 2050. There is no cure for macular disease, but treatment for some types of the condition may help preserve sight by slowing its progression, highlighting the need for early detection. Early warning signs of macular disease can include seeing dark spots or smudges, straight lines appearing bent or having difficulty reading.

Cathy Yelf, chief executive of leading sight loss charity the Macular Society, said: “We’re delighted to have Twiggy fronting this campaign to help highlight the importance of looking after our eyes, particularly as we age. Macular disease can have a devastating impact on the lives of people affected, often leaving them unable to read, drive or recognise the faces of their loved ones. It is important the condition is detected early, so action can be taken, and sight loss can be prevented. Unfortunately, in many cases, people think changes to vision are just a normal part of ageing, but this is not the case. If you notice any distortion in your vision, or any sudden changes, it is vital to get it checked and help save your sight. We must not lose focus of the importance of our eye health and ensure we all attend regular sight tests.” 

Bayer has been a leader in ophthalmology treatment in the UK for a decade, delivering numerous collaboration projects with the NHS to improve access to diagnostic and clinical care for patients. Bayer recently completed a project with Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals Foundation Trust transforming a disused ward into a state-of-the-art diagnostic hub at the Royal Victoria Infirmary.

“Bayer has been at the forefront of delivering ophthalmology care in the UK for 10 years and we are extremely proud to be partnering with Dame Twiggy on this important public health campaign. Twiggy is a well-known and loved icon worldwide and we can’t think of anyone better to help spread the word of the importance of maintaining eye health. As our population ages, cases of macular disease are projected to rise, which is why we are committed to tackling life-changing preventable blindness. Early detection is key, and our hope is to help everyone identify changes to their vision and seek medical advice as early as possible,” said Dr Peter Morgan-Warren, Therapy Area Head for Ophthalmology at Bayer UK.

People over 60 are entitled to free eye tests, which are recommended every two years or every year for those over 70. People over the age of 12 with diabetes should have their eyes checked at least once a year.

The Don’t Lose Focus campaign uses a photographer’s camera lens to demonstrate some of the early warning signs of macular disease. As dark spots appear in the centre of the frame, a ‘take five’ break sees Dame Twiggy warning viewers that, unlike a broken camera lens, eyesight can’t be replaced. 

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