Simple test available for eye disease

PICTURES: Vision for healthcare in Bendigo

AT HOME: Bendigo ophthalmologist Farokh Irani. Picture: GLENN DANIELS

AT HOME: Bendigo ophthalmologist Farokh Irani. Picture: GLENN DANIELS

MACULAR degeneration is the leading cause of blindness and severe vision loss in Australia.

More than 1.15 million Australians over the age of 50 have some evidence of the disease but just one per cent know about the Amsler grid - a simple self-test to monitor for symptoms of macular degeneration.

Macular Disease Foundation Australia chief executive Julie Heraghty said it was concerning so few people knew about the simple at-home testing tool.

“The most important thing for all those at risk of macular degeneration is to have an eye test and macular check," she said.

"In addition, you should also use an Amsler grid to monitor for changes in vision and test for possible symptoms between visits to an eye health professional. 

“When using the Amsler grid, if you notice any sudden changes in your vision, if you see straight lines appearing wavy or bent, or dark patches or empty spaces in the centre of your vision, you need to make an urgent appointment with your eye health professional, as early detection can save sight."

Bendigo ophthalmologist Farokh Irani said macular degeneration was common in aging populations.

"The most common procedures I do would be the most common diseases - cataracts, we manage glaucoma, we manage macular degeneration and the other common condition is diabetic eye disease," he said.

"They're the common ones and then there are other diseases of the eyes too like dry eyes, people with thyroid problems and things like that.

"The majority of our patients are elderly, only because eye diseases are by and large degenerate.

"Hence, it's even more important for them that it's easy to come to a Bendigo specialist rather than go all the way down to Melbourne.

"Everything can be done here in Bendigo."

Risk factors for macular degeneration include being over the age of fifty, a direct family history, and smoking. 

To order a free information kit including an Amsler grid call the Macular Disease Foundation Australia on 1800 111 709 or visit www.mdfoundation.com.au. 

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