Macular disease is the leading cause of blindness and severe vision loss in Australia, responsible for 50% of all cases of blindness. It includes age-related macular degeneration and diabetic eye disease, along with other less common diseases of the macula. The macula is the name given to the area at the very centre of the retina and is the region of the eye responsible for detailed central vision and most colour vision. It provides us with the ability to read, recognise faces, drive a car, and see colours clearly and any other activity that requires fine vision.
Who is at risk?
Many people are at risk of developing macular disease and don’t realise it. While macular disease can affect a person at any age, those over 50 are at higher risk of age-related macular degeneration and everyone with diabetes is at risk of developing vision loss from retinopathy.
While it is not possible to prevent, it is possible to reduce the risk. Early detection of macular disease is critical so that sight can be saved. It is essential to have regular comprehensive eye examinations including a macula check by an optometrist, as you can have the early stages of the disease without knowing. As well as having regular eye examinations at least every 2 years, it is recommended to always wear sunglasses outdoors, eat lots of green leafy vegetables and fish (for antioxidents - Lutein, Zeaxanthin and Omega-3’s), and maintain a healthy lifestyle (regular exercise etc) to reduce the risks of sight threatening macular diseases.
No matter what your age, if you have sudden changes to your vision, you need to have your eyes examined by an optometrist as soon as possible.
Remember, even if you don’t have any symptoms but think you may be at risk, make sure you discuss this with your optometrist at your next visit. For more information visit www.mdfoundation.com.au
Source: Macular Degeneration Foundation