Macular Degeneration

What is it?

Macular degeneration (MD) is the loss of central vision.

Types of MD

The disease comes in two forms:

Dry MD, which causes gradual vision loss.
Wet MD, which is much more rapid and if untreated, can lead to permanent loss of vision within 1 week.

How common is it?

Macular degeneration (MD) affects more than 1.5 million Australians over the age of 501. An eye test is key to detecting MD.
Risk factors such as smoking, a diet low in omega 3 and insufficient exercise contribute to the condition

Risk factors:

People most at risk are those aged over 50, who smoke and who also have a direct family history of MD. Smoking, which is the most controllable risk factor for MD, causes cellular damage to the eye while decreasing antioxidant levels. Smokers are three times more likely to develop MD than non-smokers.

Diagnosing MD

This can be done during a routine eye test. As the optometrist looks at the macula using the high intensity beam of light using a slit lamp and Volk lens any imperfections can be identified.

Tests for MD:

The first test is done using a Volk lens to carefully observe the macula region at the back of the eye.

If anything is suspicious we can conduct an Amsler grid test. This is very specific test to check the macula. If there are further investigations need, we can refer you to an eye specialist who would typically use an OCT. This then gives a 2D sectional image of the macula.

Managing MD

While there is no cure for dry MD, there are treatment options which can slow down the progression of blindness in wet MD. Along with having an eye test, Australians over 50 should incorporate good eye health practices into their diet and lifestyle, such as eating plenty of dark green leafy vegetables, fresh fruit and fish, and quitting smoking.