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Why you need to know about Macular Degeneration

by: Optometrist Noosa on

Only a complete eye test can detect the early signs of Macular Degeneration, Australia's leading cause of blindness and severe vision loss. All Australians over the age of 50 years should have an eye test and make sure their macula is checked. The macula is the central part of the retina, which is the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. The macular processes all central visual images and is responsible for the ability to drive, see colours clearly, read and recognize faces.

Fast facts about macular degeneration:

  • A complete eye test can save your sight
  • 1 in 7 Australians over 50 have some evidence
  • 50% chance if direct family history
  • You can have the early signs without knowing
  • Diet & lifestyle supports good macular health

Noosa residents are urged to visit an independent Optometrist equipped with Macular Degeneration diagnostic equipment.  At Noosa Optical, our 360 degree eye consultation includes a high definition macula check which is crucial for the detection of macular degeneration which occurs at the back of the eye. You can have the early signs without knowing, even before symptoms occur.

What are the types of macular degeneration?

There are two types, dry and wet. The dry form results in a gradual loss of central vision. The wet form is characterised by a sudden loss of vision and is caused by abnormal blood vessels growing under the retina. Immediate medical treatment is essential if symptoms occur.

Risk factors of macular degeneration include:

  • Age (particularly over 50yrs)
  • A direct family history means you have a 50% risk factor
  • Smoking increased your risk by 3-4 times
  • Sun exposure, including when young

Almost 1.25 million Australians over 50 have some evidence of macular degeneration, making it Australia’s leading cause of severe vision loss and blindness. Without appropriate prevention and treatment measures, this number is set to increase to 1.7 million by 2030.

Key Symptoms:

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

What treatments are available for macular degeneration?

Treatment options depend on the stage and type of macular degeneration. Current treatments for the wet form have been shown to be highly effective in saving sight. However, early detection, correct diagnosis and timely treatment is critical.

The very early signs of macular degeneration can now be easily identified with advanced equipment. Early diagnosis gives the best opportunity to save sight by adopting nutrition and lifestyle practices and timely access to treatment.

If you notice any sudden changes in your vision it is essential to seek medical attention urgently. The ‘wet’ form of macular degeneration can progress very quickly and requires rapid treatment to save sight. An Amsler grid can also be used to self monitor for changes in vision between professional appointments and is available free from Noosa Optical.   

The Macular Disease Foundation Australia

Macular Disease Foundation Australia’s vision is to reduce the incidence and impact of macular disease in Australia through education, awareness, research, support services and representation.

The Foundation is a national charity providing information, guidance and support for those at risk and living with macular disease, primarily macular degeneration, which is responsible for 50% of all vision loss and blindness in Australia. The Foundation is the voice of the macular disease community.

For more information about macular degeneration, contact Macular Disease Foundation Australia on 1800 111 709 or visit www.mdfoundation.com.au

Noosa Optical was established in 1989 as the first Optometrist in Noosa Junction. We provide comprehensive options in eyecare using state-of-the-art Zeiss imaging technology. Our optometrists look after clients across the Sunshine Coast, but mostly from the Peregian Beach, Peregian Springs, Noosa Heads, Noosaville and Tewantin areas.

Click here to book a comprehensive Macula check today.