Also known as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a degenerative retinal eye disease that causes progressive loss of the central vision, whilst leaving the peripheral (side) vision intact. This can affect your ability to read, drive, to recognise faces and any other activities that require detailed vision. Macular degeneration is the leading cause in legal blindness and severe vision loss in Australia, accounting for 50% of all cases of blindness. Macular degeneration tends to be related to ageing and most frequently affects those that are above the age of 50, however this is not inevitable and earlier detection is critical to saving our sight. Difficulty with vision should never be dismissed as a by-product of ageing as early stages of the disease may not result in noticeable visual symptoms and are only detectable through an eye examination. The earlier the detection, the earlier steps can be taken to help slow down the progression and save your sight.
Extended exposure to ultra-violet rays increases your risk of developing macular degeneration. Therefore, wearing UV protective eyewear will help lower the risk. Choosing the right sunglasses will be a step toward healthier eyes.
Early detection is critical
The early detection of any form of macular degeneration is crucial to saving sight. Difficulty with vision should never be dismissed as just a part of getting older. In its early stages macular degeneration may not result in noticeable visual symptoms but it can be detected with an eye examination.
The earlier that this disease is detected, the earlier that steps can be undertaken to help slow its progression and save sight through treatment and/or lifestyle modifications.
Any sudden changes to vision should be treated as a medical emergency. See an optometrist immediately.
Are you at risk? Check the following risk factors:
- Old age – People over the age of 50 are at risk. In fact, one in seven Australians over 50 – or 1.29 million people – have some evidence of this disease.
- Family history – People with a direct family history of macular degeneration have a 50% chance of developing the disease.
- Smokers – Studies have shown that people who smoke are three to four times more likely to develop macular degeneration.