This week is Macular Degeneration (MD) awareness week, highlighting the leading cause of blindness and vision loss in Australia. West Ryde optometrist, Tom Geroulas advises that if you are over 50, have an eye test and get your macula checked.

One in every seven Australians over the age of 50 are affected by MD and the risk increases with age. People with a family history of MD are especially at risk, with a 50% chance of developing MD themselves.

Macular degeneration damages your central vision, which affects your ability to read, drive, recognise faces and see colours clearly.

Given that early detection is critical to saving sight, the first step of course is to have regular eye tests. Secondly, do not ignore any sudden changes in vision. Early detection can save your sight. Don’t delay it, see your optometrist immediately if you notice any changes in your vision.

People need to know the symptoms of macular degeneration, which may include one or more of the following:

  • Difficulty with reading or any other activity with fine vision.
  • Visual Distortion, where straight lines appear wavy or bent.
  • Distinguishing faces becomes a problem.
  • Dull patches or empty spaces appearing anywhere in the centre of your vision.

These can be subtle and people with MD often dismiss such symptoms, mistakenly thinking that they are just experiencing eye strain or feeling tired.

Diet and lifestyle changes that help reduce the risk of MD or slow down its progression include the following:

  • Don’t smoke.
  • Eat dark green leafy vegetables and fresh fruit daily.
  • Eat fish two times a week, as well as raw nuts
  • Control your weight and exercise regularly.
  • Limit your intake of fats and seed oils.
  • Check with your GP about taking a suitable zinc and antioxidant supplement.
  • Protect your eyes from sun exposure.

There is no cure for MD, but some treatments now exist to help control or minimize further damage, if diagnosed early. If you have further questions, please contact us on phone 9804 6896.

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