Did you know that 1 in 4 people over 50 are still not heeding the call to action to have their eyes tested and macula checked despite 85% being aware of macular degeneration?1
Sparks & Feros Optometrists is supporting Macular Disease Foundation Australia in urging local residents at risk to see their local optometrist and take control of their eye health this Macular Degeneration Awareness Week (24-30 May). Risk factors for macular degeneration include being over the age of fifty, a direct family history, and smoking.
Macular degeneration, Australia’s leading cause of severe vision loss and blindness, affects more than 1.15 million Australians over 502, and without appropriate prevention and treatment measures, this number is set to increase to 1.7 million by 2030, given the rapidly ageing population.
Finding out is as easy as visiting your local optometrist for an eye test and macula check. The very early signs of macular degeneration can now be identified easily by modern technology, such as the Optomap Ultra-wide Retinal Imaging, which enables the optometrist to see the retina at the back of the eye, where the disease develops, and detect early signs of the disease.
Macular Disease Foundation Australia Chief Executive Officer Julie Heraghty says that dismissing symptoms and not seeking advice risks blindness. “Clearly, awareness of macular degeneration is not enough. Testing is essential and symptom recognition is critical to saving sight,” she said.
The symptoms of macular degeneration may include one or more of the following (the 4 Ds):
- 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.
“Macular degeneration is a chronic disease requiring early detection and diagnosis. In the case of the wet form, it can progress very quickly and requires urgent treatment to save sight. All Australians over 50 should have a regular eye test and macula check, and monitor for any changes in vision between visits to their optometrist,” said Ms Heraghty.
Along with having an eye test and macula check, Australians over 50 should incorporate the good eye health practices of diet and lifestyle into their everyday health routines. Eat dark green leafy vegetables, fresh fruit and fish. Consideration should be given to an appropriate supplement in consultation with your doctor. Quitting smoking is also critical, as smoking can lead to blindness.
Optometry Australia CEO Genevieve Quilty urged people to go to their local optometrist this week and commended Macular Disease Foundation Australia for helping to raise awareness of eye health in general.
“Macular Degeneration Awareness Week is a great reminder to make an appointment to visit your optometrist today. Early detection is crucial to saving sight,” she said.
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- The study was conducted on the Galaxy Telephone Omnibus in March 2015, among 1,100 Australians nationwide aged 16 years and older. The data was weighted to the latest ABS population estimates.
- ‘Eyes on the future – A clear outlook on age-related macular degeneration’. Report by Deloitte Access Economics & Macular Degeneration Foundation, 2011. 2014 projections are a linear projection between 2010 and 2015 estimates.
About macular degeneration
Macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness and severe vision loss in Australia. 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 macula processes all central visual images and is responsible for the ability to drive, see colours clearly, read and recognise faces. Macular degeneration causes damage to the macula, resulting in central vision loss.
About 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 living with macular disease, primarily macular degeneration, which is responsible for fifty percent of all vision loss and blindness in Australia. It is the voice of the macular disease community.
About Optometry Australia
Optometry Australia is the peak professional organisation for almost 90% of Australian optometrists.