You may or may not have noticed the increased number of ads showing on TV at the moment by the Macula Disease Foundation leading into Macula Degeneration Awareness Week which runs from Sunday 25th May to Saturday May 31st 2014.
So what is it?
Well Macular Degeneration affects 1 in 7 Australians over the age of 50 and is the main cause of vision impairment and legal blindness in Australian adults.
What you should know about Macular Degeneration
The cause of this condition is not clear, however risk factors include UV exposure, ageing and lifestyle factors such as smoking and poor diet. Whilst there is no known cure, early detection is key to slowing the progression of the condition. Awareness of Macular Degeneration and regular eye examinations are therefore important.
Symptoms of Macular Degeneration
This condition affects the macular which is the central part of your retina located at the back of your eye. This is responsible for your central vision allowing you to read, recognise faces, drive and see colours clearly. When the macular is impaired, blurriness or dark spots are experienced in your central vision. This makes you rely on your peripheral vision to identify objects by their shapes. Some common symptoms and early warning signs include:
- Difficulty reading which cannot be corrected with glasses
- Difficulty identifying colours
- Straight lines appear distorted or bent
- Words or letters merging together when reading
- Central vision appears blurred or blocked by dark empty spaces
Reducing the Risk
In addition to having your eyes tested regularly, the Macular Disease Foundation suggests the following positive lifestyle steps to reduce the risk of Macular Degeneration occurring. *These have also been found to slow down the progression of the disease.
- Avoid smoking.
- Keep a healthy lifestyle, control your weight and exercise regularly.
- Eat a healthy well-balanced diet that includes plenty of fish, green leafy vegetables, fresh fruit and nuts and limits your intake of fats.
- In consultation with your doctor, consider taking a zinc and antioxidant supplement.
- Protect your eyes with quality sunglasses providing maximum UV protection, particularly in younger years.
If you haven’t had your eyes checked recently or have any concerns or queries about Macular Degeneration or any other eye health issues, we can assist you with professional advice.
*Please consult your with your doctor before undertaking any changes in diet or lifestyle