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Macular Degeneration : The Facts


What is Macula Degeneration (MD)?

-       The macula is the central part of the retina, the light sensitive tissue at the back of the eye.

-       MD causes progressive damage to the macula resulting a central loss of vision.

-       Central vision loss can affect your ability to read, recognise faces, drive and see colours clearly.

-       Early detection of MD & seeking treatment immediately is vital for saving sight.


How many Australians have MD?

-       MD is the leading cause of blindness and severe vision loss in Australia.

-       MD is responsible for 48% of severe vision loss in Australia.

-       One in seven Australian’s over the age of 50 is affected by MD and is often called Age-Related Macular Degeneration ARMD or AMD.


What’s the difference between Wet and Dry MD?

-       Dry MD results in a gradual loss of central vision.

-       WET MD is characterised by a sudden loss of vision and is caused by abnormal blood vessels growing in the retina.


What are the symptoms of MD?

-       Difficulty reading of doing any other activity, which requires fine vision.

-       Distortion – straight lines appear wavy or bent.

-       Distinguishing faces becomes a problem.

-       Dark patches or empty spaces in the centre of one’s vision.


What are the risk factors for MD?

-       People over 50, smokers and those with a family history of MD are most at risk of developing the disease.


What can you do to reduce your risk?

-       Have your eyes tested and make sure the macula is checked.

-       Don’t smoke.

-       Keep a healthy lifestyle. Control your weight and exercise regularly.

-       Eat healthy, well-balanced diet, eat dark green leafy vegetables and fresh fruit daily and eat a handful of nuts weekly and limit your intake of fats.

-       In consultation with your doctor, consider taking the appropriate supplement for macula health that could include zinc and antioxidant supplement; a lutein supplement; or a high strength lutein, zeaxanthin and concentrated omega-3s supplement.

-       Provide adequate protection for your eyes from sunlight particularly when young.


What treatments are available for MD?

- Current Wet MD treatments aim to keep the best vision for as long as possible (and in some cases may potentially provide visual improvement) but there is presently no cure.  However, early detection is critical in order to save sight.  There is no treatment for Dry MD.


This article was published on Tuesday 02 June, 2009.