“Macular Degeneration is the leading cause of blindness and severe vision loss in Australia”
The macular is the central and one of the most important parts of the retina at the back of the eye. Like the film in a camera it is the light sensitive tissue responsible for processing all visual images. The area of the macular is only very small part of the entire retina, less than 1/8th , and yet it supplies almost all the detailed information that we need to function in the world. Even the smallest damage or haemorrhage at the centre of the macular would seriously decrease our ability to see details such words, faces or pass a driving test.
As such while Macular Degeneration is a major cause of legal blindness it is also a major cause of visual disability even before getting to that point.
” 1 in 7 Australians over the age of 50 has some evidence of macular degeneration and this does increase with age”
There are two types of macular degeneration dry and wet. While the dry causes a gradual decrease in central visual loss the wet form can be sudden with bleeding and new blood vessels forming and needs rapid attention. As with many diseases early detection is very important in deciding the final degree of visual loss.
What are the risk factors ?
You are at a greater risk of developing this disease as you get older.
Your risk increases by 50% if you have a family history of the disease.
Smoking increases you chances of developing Macular degeneration by 3-4 times.
What symptoms could I get?
Any decrease in quality or level of vision could be a sign of Macular Degeneration and if it is occurring early in one eye you may not even notice without checking each eye separately. Any distortion of reading print, poor colour vision, patchiness or loss of central details could be a warning sign .
What can I do to reduce my risk from Macular Degeneration ?
- Don’t smoke. Exercise regularly, and watch your weight and blood pressure.
- Avoid vegetable oils, especially in processed foods and margarine.
- Eat fish twice a week.
- Eat a handful of nuts or more each week… I prefer you to eat those nuts that are better for your heart like walnuts, pine nuts, Brazil nuts, pistachios and almonds, but you can also eat peanuts and cashews as the particular scientific study did not identify which nuts are protective.
- Eat plenty of coloured fruit and vegetables. (carrot, corn, capsicum, tomatoes and pumpkin as well as leafy vegetables, spinach, broccoli and brussel sprouts).
- You may use cold processed extra virgin olive oil, as it seems (on what evidence we have at the moment) to be safe. Don’t use olive oil margarine as it has been chemically changed.
- Wear UV protected glasses or sunglasses, although there is no clear research evidence to link AMD and UV exposure.