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Macular Degeneration



What is Macular Degeneration (MD)?

The macula is the central part of the retina which is the light sensitive tissue at the back of the eye.
The retina processes all visual images.
It is responsible for your ability to read, recognise faces, drive and see colours clearly.
You are reading this fact sheet using your macula.
MD causes progressive macular damage resulting in loss of central vision.
This loss of vision may be severe. Fortunately the side vision is not significantly affected.
MD can be detected in its very early stage before any visual symptoms occur, by medical examination of the retina.
Early detection of any form of MD is crucial, because any vision lost cannot be regained.
If you wait until you have symptoms, it may be too late.

Macular Degeneration (MD) is the leading cause of blindness in Australia, affecting central vision.

MD is primarily age related and most frequently affects people over the age of 50.
One in seven people over the age of 50 are affected by the disease, which increases to one in three for people over the age of 75.
It is sometimes referred to as Age Related Macular Degeneration or'AMD'.


How common is MD?

MD is the leading cause of blindness and severe vision impairment in Australia. It's incidence is increasing. It affects one in seven people over the age of 50 years and one in three over the age of 75.*Smoking and age-related maculopathy, (The Blue Mountains Eye Study. Smith W, Mitchell P, Leeder SR. Dec 1996.

Are there different types?

Yes. The DRY form results in a gradual loss of central vision. The WET form of MD is caused by abnormal blood vessels growing into the retina. Sudden loss of vision is characteristic and vision loss may be severe. Up to 75 per cent of people with untreated Wet MD are likely to be become legally blind within two years.

What treatments are available?

MD is a progressive disease. Current treatments aim to preserve as much vision as possible and halt or slow its progression. It is very important that you have an understanding about the stage and type of your MD, as treatment options are dependant on this. There is presently no cure for MD.

What are the risk factors?

MD is thought to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. People over the age of 50 are at risk.
If you smoke or have a family history of MD, your risk of developing the disease is much greater. Signs and Symptoms - A decrease in vision is not an inevitable consequence of getting older. The need for increased illumination, sensitivity to glare, decreased night vision and poor colour sensitivity means there is something wrong.
The following symptoms mean something is wrong and you should seek help urgently:

Difficulty in reading or doing any other activity, which requires fine vision Distortion - straight lines appear wavy or bent Distinguishing faces or anything in your central vision becomes a problem.

Eye Health Checklist:

Have your eyeclarity Optometrist check your eyes every year.
Don't smoke.
Eat fish two to three times a week
Eat dark green leafy vegetables and fresh fruit daily
Eat a handful of nuts per week
Limit your intake of fats and oils
Keep a healthy lifestyle - don't smoke, control your weight and exercise regularly.
In consultation with your doctor, consider taking an antioxidant and zinc supplement.
Also consider a lutein supplement
Provide adequate protection for your eyes from sunlight exposure, particularly when young




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