Australians are mistaking macular degeneration for ageing

MACULAR Degeneration is Australia's leading cause of severe vision loss and blindness but many Australians still wrongly confuse symptoms of the disease as a normal sign of ageing.

The disease affects more than 1.15 million Australians over 50, with this number set to increase to 1.7 million by 2030 without appropriate prevention and treatment measures.

OPSM National Eyecare Director Grant Fisher is advising Australians to get sight smart and to consider having regular eye examinations.

Macular Degeneration is a chronic disease but can be diagnosed through regular eye tests that examine the retina.

OPSM uses the latest scanning technology which aids in the detection and monitoring of macular degeneration.

"The early detection of any form of Macular Degeneration is crucial as there are a great number of treatment options available to slow the progression of the disease, and, therefore, the effect on vision" says Fisher.

As Macular Degeneration is more prevalent in those over 50, some people confuse symptoms of the disease as a normal sign of aging.

The most common symptoms include:

  • Difficulty in reading or doing 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.

Although the condition may not make itself apparent until later in life, preventative measures can be started much earlier.

Here are OPSM's top four tips for Macular Degeneration care and prevention:

  1. Don't smoke - it damages the cells in your retina and more than doubles the risk of Age-­‐ related Macular Degeneration;
  2. Protect your retina from the impact of harmful UV rays by wearing good quality sunglasses with 100% UVA protection;
  3. Eat well - research suggests that diets rich in carotenoids found in leafy green vegetables, such as raw carrot, broccoli and raw spinach can reduce the risk of Macular Degeneration. A high-level boost of nutrients zeaxanthin and lutein may slow progression of the condition. Lutein is found in egg yolk, while zeaxanthin is found in most fruits and vegetables;
  4. Be self aware

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