Macular degeneration (MD) is the leading cause of blindness and severe vision loss in Australia and effects one in seven over the age of 50. It is a progressive disease that destroys central vision due to deterioration of the macula region of the eye and its functions. This week The Macular Disease Foundation of Australia is promoting Macular Degeneration Week, and their message was simple:‘Don’t be in the dark about macular degeneration’.

 

Over 1.15 million people over 50 in Australia show some evidence of this disease, and this number is only expected to rise in the absence of effective prevention measures. Symptoms include difficulty in reading or participating in any other activity which requires fine vision, distortion where straight lines appear wavy or bent, problems distinguishing faces and dark patches or empty spaces appearing in the centre of your vision.

 

The underlying cause is unknown, however the below factors have been identified as contributing to the development of MD:

 

  • Age
  • Gender (Women are more likely to develop symptoms than men)
  • Smokers and ex-smokers (3 times more likely to develop symptoms)
  • Those with a family history
  • Individuals on a diet with a high glycaemic index (GI)

 

 

A number of dietary and lifestyle changes may help reduce the risk of developing MD and slow down its progression, this includes:

 

  • A diet rich in green leafy vegetables, whole grains and oily fish e.g. salmon and tuna for their OMEGA 3.
  • Wearing sunglasses to protect your eyes from glare (preferably with yellow or amber lenses)
  • Maintaining a healthy body weight through regular vigorous exercise
  • No Smoking!
  • Regular eye examinations with a professional eye care specialist.

 

If you are experiencing symptoms such as those listed above, seek professional advice as soon as possible – early diagnosis leads to better management of the condition, and may allow the progression of the disease to be delayed.

 

For more information on macular degeneration, or to take the Amsler Grid vision test, head to

http://www.mdfoundation.com.au/default.aspx.