Our vision helps us to maintain our balance and identify hazards and obstacles in our environment that we can then navigate around. As we age our vision deteriorates and these changes can be very gradual so they may be ignored or unnoticed. Living with vision loss impacts quality of life and independence and increases the risk of falls among older Australians.
Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is a chronic but painless disease that affects a special layer of cells in the eye called the retinal pigment epithelium, at the base of the retina. The retinal pigment epithelium is like a wall or barrier. It is responsible for passing oxygen, sugar, and other essentials up to the retina. It also moves waste products down to the blood vessels underneath.
The not so good news
1 in 7 Australians over the age of 50 have some evidence of AMD
Smoking increases the risk of AMD making it 3-4 times more likely and occur 5-10 years earlier than in those who don’t smoke.
If you have siblings or family members with AMD, you have a 50% chance of developing AMD.
The good news
While macular degeneration is related to ageing, but it is not a normal or inevitable consequence of getting older there are things you can do to reduce your risk. A visit to your optometrist will identify if you have any signs of AMD.
AMD can progress much more slowly when we take steps to protect our vision. Here are some helpful tips:
- Eating dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale include vitamins that protect the macula.
- Adding oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, anchovies, and trout to your diet as they contain Omega 3 fatty acids important for eye health.
- Include low GI carbs such as wholegrain bread and vegetables reduce the risk of developing AMD.
- Visit the optometrist every two years as regular eye examinations that include a check of your macular health can save your sight.
Book an appointment with an optometrist to have your eyes examined and check your macular health.
For more information and support for AMD visit Macular Disease Foundation Australia.
For more information on how to improve your eyesight visit Injury Matters -Tips to improve your vision