Facts About Macular Degeneration

In case you didn’t see it (pun intended), this week is Macular Degeneration Awareness Week (21-27 May). This year, the Macular Degeneration Foundation is promoting the campaign with a ‘Face the Facts’ theme.

As the leading cause of blindness in Australia, most of us are familiar with the term macular degeneration, but what actually are the facts about this serious disease, and how much do you really know about its detection and treatment?

In the spirit of supporting such an important week in eye health and awareness, we’ve brought you the top five most interesting things you should know about macular degeneration:

1. More than 14% of people over 50 have Macular Degeneration – 1 in every 7

Macular degeneration is one of the most common eye diseases in the country. In some cases, it can result in legal blindness. To help protect yourself, consider if any of your family members have a history of macular degeneration, as family history can increase your chance of getting the disease by a staggering 50%.

2. You may have early signs of Macular Degeneration without knowing it

In its early stages, macular degeneration may not affect your vision at all. This is why early detection is the key. As it progresses, the disease causes vision loss as a result of the cells under your retina – those responsible for your central, detailed vision – dying. However, depending on how early you catch it and what type it is (wet or dry), you may be able to retain some of your vision.

3. An eye test can save your sight.

Macular degeneration can be detected through a general eye exam, supplemented by specialised investigations such as an OCT scan. While there is no cure for macular degeneration, there is a treatment currently available for the wet form, and in the near future, the dry form too. If you pick up the signs early enough, treatment can be successful in slowing down the disease’s progression and reducing the level of vision loss you experience. So be sure to book regular check-ups with your eye health professional.

Prevention is key! Decrease your chances of developing severe macular degeneration by maintaining a healthy lifestyle as much as possible. This includes eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, not smoking, and optimising your cardiovascular health including exercising regularly.

4. We can Show You Your Macula

Say what? That’s right, using modern, wide-field camera technology, ophthalmologists like Dr. Katherine Smallcombe have the ability to show patients images of their own macula. Why would we do this? Seeing is believing, and it’s often a great way to educate patients on the intricacies of the disease they are living with. As a clinic dedicated to caring and communicating with our patients, this part of your treatment is important to us.

5. Technology is Our Best Asset

One of the best ways to see macular degeneration in detail is through images from a Spectralis OCT machine. If you’ve been following our blog, you’ll know the Spectralis OCT is a high-tech piece of equipment we have here at KindSIGHT, that is also used by NASA. The Spectralis OCT has the ability to look at the layers of the retina and detect whether the macular degeneration is wet or dry and thus what treatment is needed.

Interestingly, the technology also uses a process called autofluorescence – a non-invasive imaging technique that detects light-emitting molecules. This is also important as it gives us information about how active the disease is. Check out some of the images taken at KindSIGHT using our technology below.

Macular degeneration is a serious, sight-threatening disease. This year on Macular Degeneration Awareness Week, take some simple steps – share some information with your family and friends, and make an appointment to get your eyes checked. If you have macular degeneration and are wondering about your treatment options, give us a call or book an appointment online today.