what is macular degeneration

Macular Degeneration causes progressive macular damage, resulting in vision loss experienced as blurriness or dark spots in the centre of your vision. It’s important to know that in its early stages, symptoms of MD may not be noticeable to you. The good news? It can be detected in a thorough eye examination before vision deterioration begins. Early detection is key to slowing the progression of the condition.

Macular Degeneration (MD) is the leading cause of blindness and major vision loss in Australia. 1 in 7 Australians over the age of 50 have evidence of the disease and in the early stages there may be no symptoms*.

The macular is the central part of the retina that processes all visual images, helping you recognise faces, drive, see colours clearly and even read this article.

Common symptoms of Macular Degeneration

Some early warning signs include:

  • Difficulty reading which cannot be corrected with glasses
  • Difficulty identifying colours
  • Straight lines appear distorted or bent
  • Words or letters merging together when reading
  • Central vision appears blurred or blocked by dark empty spaces

What causes Macular Degeneration?

The cause of this condition is not clear, but we do know that risk factors include UV exposure, aging and lifestyle factors such as smoking and poor diet. Whilst there is no known cure, early detection is key to slowing the progression of macular degeneration.

Can I reduce my risk?

In addition to having your eyes tested regularly, the Macular Degeneration Foundation suggests the following positive lifestyle steps to reduce the risk of Macular Degeneration occurring.** These have also been found to slow down the progression of the disease.

  • Avoid smoking.
  • Keep a healthy lifestyle, control your weight and exercise regularly.
  • Eat a healthy well-balanced diet that includes plenty of fish, green leafy vegetables, fresh fruit and nuts and limit your intake of fats.
  • In consultation with your doctor, consider taking a zinc and antioxidant supplement.
  • Protect your eyes with quality sunglasses providing maximum UV protection, particularly in younger years.

Make an appointment to get your eyes tested today

If you or a member of your family haven’t had an eye examination in the last 2 years (or 12 months if you’re over 65), make an appointment for a 360˚ comprehensive eye consultation with one of our independent optometrists so that they can assess your risk.

Find your nearest optometrist now


*Macular Degeneration Foundation, 'The Prevalence of Age-related Maculopathy: The Visual Impairment Project' Ophthalmology 2000.

**Consult your doctor before undertaking any changes in diet or lifestyle.

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