A closer look at AMD

Image source: MDFA

This Macula Month in May, we remind Aussies to look after their macular health by booking an appointment to see their optometrist.

Macular Awareness Month is an annual initiative of Macular Disease Foundation Australia (MDFA), the peak national body representing the macular disease community.

Macular disease is the leading cause of blindness and severe vision loss in Australia. It includes age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic eye disease, along with other less common diseases of the macula.

What is AMD?

AMD is a progressive eye disease that destroys central vision.

According to the MDFA, it is the most common macular disease, with around 1.4 million Australians having some signs of AMD. It’s important to remember that the earlier the disease is detected, the more vision you are likely to retain.

While there is no cure for AMD, there is effective sight-saving treatment (anti-VEGF injections) for one form of the disease (wet AMD) if detected early. This Macular Month in 2022, the MDFA is raising more awareness of macular disease by advocating for more timely and affordable access to this vital treatment for Australians with wet AMD. Find out more about their important campaign here.

Are you at risk of AMD?

AMD accounts for 50 per cent of blindness in Australia and if you have a sibling or parent with AMD, you are 50 per cent more likely to develop the disease too.

For some, AMD advances very slowly and may not impact vision while for others it may progress faster and lead to vision loss in one or both eyes.

No matter your age, if you have sudden changes in your vision you need to have your eyes tested immediately. 90 per cent of all blindness and vision impairment is preventable or treatable if detected early, so it is crucial to visit your optometrist for regular eye examinations even if you feel like nothing is wrong.

If you or one of your direct family members has AMD, MDFA is urging you to start a conversation about family eye health, as well as follow this eye health checklist:

  • Have a regular comprehensive eye examination, including a check of the macula.
  • Use an Amsler grid weekly (daily if you already have macular disease) to check for symptoms and assist in monitoring your vision at home, between visits to your eye health professional.
  • If you smoke, quit!
  • Maintain an eye healthy diet and lifestyle.

MDFA operates a National Helpline on 1800 111 709 providing free information and advice about all kinds of macular disease. You can call the number for a free information kit and Amsler grid. For more resources, visit their website here.

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