You’re currently using your macula – the central part of the retina, the light sensitive tissue at the back of your eye – to read this newsletter. It’s also essential for driving a car, seeing colours clearly and recognising faces.

One in seven people aged 50 or over, however, have signs of a disease of the macula called age-related macular degeneration (AMD). It’s the main cause of severe vision loss and blindness. But early detection may help save your vision and you can also reduce your AMD risk.

What is age-related macular degeneration (AMD)?

Light passes through your eye’s pupil (black hole) to the macula, which contains a high concentration of light receptor cells. AMD is damage to these cells that starts with the accumulation of waste products.

It then can develop into two types of disease:1) Dry AMD; light receptor cells gradually thin out and disappear 2) Wet AMD; abnormal blood vessels also grow under the retina, leak out fluid and cause sudden vision loss.

Medicine still hasn’t found a cure for either AMD type, but fortunately treatment can stop or reverse the early stages of wet AMD.

What to do

* Eye check

Early AMD often doesn’t cause symptoms. But an eye check every two years if you’re aged 50 or over can detect it before symptoms develop so you can start treatment.

You should immediately have an eye check, however, if you already have symptoms including:

  • Difficulty reading or with other fine vision
  • Distortion, where straight lines appear wavy or bent
  • Difficulty distinguishing faces
  • Dark patches or empty spaces in your central vision

* People of all ages can reduce AMD risk:

  • Don’t smoke
  • Healthy diet including fish, nuts, dark green leafy vegetables, fresh fruit
  • Healthy weight
  • Wear sunglasses

More information: Speak to your GP, Visit www.mdfoundation.com.au

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