It's always time to make yourself familiar with macular degeneration and to encourage those most at risk, people over 50, to have their eyes tested and their macula checked.
Macular degeneration (MD) is the name given to a group of degenerative diseases of the retina that cause progressive, painless loss of central vision, affecting the ability to see fine detail, drive, read and recognise faces.
TYPES OF MD:
When cells in the retinal pigment epithelium die, the retinal cells above them also die, leading to patches of 'missing' retina. This is dry MD. This is a slower form of the disease, causing gradual loss of vision.
Retinal pigment epithelium cells fail to stop the choroidal blood vessels from growing into the retina. When these cells enter the retina, they grow wildly, and they leak fluid and blood into the retina, leading to scarring and loss of vision. When left undetected or untreated, rapid and severe loss of central vision can occur within a short period of time.
- Difficulty in reading or doing any other activity which requires fine vision
- Distortion where straight lines appear wavy or bent
- Distinguishing faces becomes a problem
- Dark patches or empty spaces appearing in the centre of your vision
- The need for increased illumination, sensitivity to glare, decreased night vision and poor colour sensitivity may also indicate that there is something wrong and should be investigated.
The early detection of any form of MD is crucial. Symptoms should never be dismissed as part of just 'getting older'.
EYE TEST CRITICAL
Macular degeneration can only be diagnosed by examining the retina. This must be undertaken by an eye care professional.
MD RISK FACTORS
- Macular degeneration is primarily age related, affecting one in seven people over the age of 50.
- Macular degeneration in the family? It's a 50 per cent chance you'll develop the disease.
- Smokers and people who have smoked are three times more likely to develop MD.
Diet and lifestyle supports good macular health. For more information visit www.mdfoundation.com.au.