May is Macular Degeneration Awareness Month!
A not-so-fun-fact: Macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in Australia, affecting over a million people.
What is Macular Degeneration?
Macular Degeneration causes damage to the macular, the central part of the retina. The retina processes all visual images, allowing you to read, recognise faces, drive and see colours clearly. Damage to the macular results in loss of central vision, usually in the form of bluriness or dark spots, but the peripheral vision is not affected. In its early stages, symptoms may not be noticeable to you.
What are the risk factors?
Although the exact cause of MD is still unknown, there are certain factors which have been linked to the disease.
Age: the risk increases with age, affecting one in seven Australians over the age of 50
Family history: there is a 50% risk if there is a family history of the disease
Smokers: Smokers are three to four times more likely to develop MD
If any of these factors apply to you, it's important you mention it to your optometrist.
Difficulty reading or any other activity that requires 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
Additionally, sensitivity to glare, decreased night vision and poor colour sensitivity may also indicate that something's wrong.
Early detection can save your sight!
Whilst there is no cure for the disease, early detection can allow you to take steps to slow the progession of the disease and save sight.
You can have early signs of macular degeneration without eve knowing, which is why regular eye tests are essential. Here at Optometrist Parramatta, we can perform an OCT (optical coherence tomography) scan, which is a non-invasive imaging technique used to diagnose macular degeneration as well as provide ongoing treatment for it.
You can reduce your risk by:
1) Booking a 360 Eye Test and a macula check online or call us at (02) 9891 2020.
2) Ordering a FREE information kit from Macular Disease Foundation Australia's National Helpline 1800 111 709 or visiting www.mdfoundation.com.au/resources
3) Reading more about Macular Degeneration on our blog: https://www.optometristparramatta.com.au/post/macular-degeneration