Macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness and vision loss in Australia. One in seven Australians over the age of 50 (1 million people) show some evidence of macular degeneration and this will rise 70%, to 1.7 million, by 2030 in the absence of prevention and treatment measures. North Tamborine optometrist, Nicky Carr, is reminding people over 50 years to have their eyes tested and their macula checked in the lead up to Macular Degeneration Awareness Week.
For Ita Buttrose it’s personal, ‘I was terribly upset when my late father told me he had macula degeneration. As a journalist and an author, dad always started the day reading a couple of newspapers, suddenly this was no longer possible. I couldn’t imagine not being able to read again. Macular degeneration is a devastating disease,’ said Ita.
Nicky says, ‘there are some key ways we can fight this disease and the first step is to have an eye test and macula check. Secondly, do not ignore any changes in vision. Early detection can literally save your sight. Contact your optometrist immediately if you have any sudden changes in your vision.’
CEO of the Macula Degeneration Foundation Australia, Julie Heraghty said, ‘many people would be surprised to know the importance of diet and lifestyle in reducing the risk and progression of macula degeneration. In fact, smoking causes blindness, so don’t smoke. Eat dark green leafy vegetables, fresh fruit, fish and take appropriate supplements if required.’
Australians should also be aware of the symptoms of macular degeneration which can include one or more of the following:
· 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 Awareness Week is a great reminder to make an appointment to visit your optometrist and to contact the Macular Disease Foundation Australia on 1800 111 709 or visit www.mdfoundation.com.au for a free information kit and Amsler grid,’ said Ms Buttrose.
For an appointment please phone Tamborine Mountain Optometrists on 5545 0277.