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Eye health and macular degeneration

With decades of experience in optometry, the team at Ian Donald Optometrist cares about optimal eye health for every customer. We know that to keep your eyes in the best possible condition over the long-term, regular eye tests are crucial.

Macular degeneration, for instance, is a condition that is often permanent and irreversible – and it may develop without any initial symptoms. The only way to diagnose macular degeneration is with an eye examination.

Detecting macular degeneration early will give you the best chance of retaining your vision. It’s important therefore to understand the condition and what you need to do to ensure we diagnose it and begin treatment at the earliest possible stage.

About macular degeneration

Officially termed Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD), macular degeneration is an age-related eye condition that worsens your central vision. Those with the condition experience a distortion or absence of the central field of vision, whilst it does not affect peripheral (side) vision.

Macular degeneration is quite common in adults and seniors, affecting close to one in seven Australians over the age of 50.

Given it usually does not cause complete blindness, most people affected can live independently, but they may have trouble identifying faces, driving, reading or doing detailed work like sewing.

Main types and causes

There are two different types of macular degeneration, called ‘wet’ and ‘dry’. Most people experience dry macular degeneration, which is when the light-sensitive cells in the macula (the part of the retina responsible for our central vision) gradually break down, leading to blurred vision. It tends to occur slowly over time.

With the wet condition, abnormal growth of blood vessels causes them to leak, damaging the retina and the macula’s light-sensitive cells. Vision loss in this case is often sudden and worse than with dry macular degeneration.

There is no specific cause of macular degeneration. However, given the condition tends to run in families, some suggest it may be genetic-related. Other possible factors include smoking, obesity and poor diet.

Identifying macular degeneration

As observed, macular degeneration may be well established before symptoms become visible. Most commonly, the initial symptom will be blurred vision, however that can take several forms.

Some people may notice that straight lines within their central vision look wavy or they may experience an overall blur with objects in their central line of sight. Others may notice difficulties in focusing when reading or they may see dark or blank spots. In rarer cases, there is a complete loss of central vision.

An eye examination is the only way to detect macular degeneration. Our team performs a number of tests as part of our eye consultations to detect any macular degeneration and the current condition of your overall eye health.

Managing your eye health

Unfortunately, there is no cure for macular degeneration. Our optometrists will help you manage the condition however, with prescription glasses, contact lenses or recommended dietary modifications.

In the case of wet macular degeneration, other options include injections and laser treatments to help prevent further degeneration. Our optometrists may also recommend that you quit smoking, maintain a healthy diet and wear prescription sunglasses to protect your eyes from further damage.

The best first step to manage macular degeneration is of course, diagnosis. Please contact us to book your eye test today.


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