As our eyes age, the retina (lining the inside of the back of the eyeball) starts to deteriorate, making clear vision more difficult.
This is particularly true of the most sensitive part of the retina, the centrally located macula. When this region starts to degenerate, sharpness of vision is lost and this can lead to difficulty with reading, and often, the need to give up driving.
Age Related Macular Degeneration (or ARMD) can lead to serious visual impairment, but it rarely ends in total blindness. The condition tends to progress slowly with only some aspects of vision being affected. Peripheral vision is not affected, but a loss in detail when looking directly at an object can be an early sign of MD. Other early symptoms of MD usually involve an awareness of blurring in the central vision; sometimes vision may become distorted. For instance there might appear to be a 'kink' in an otherwise straight doorframe. This could require urgent assessment.
Age is the most common cause of macular degeneration. If there is a family history of MD there may be an increased risk. In addition, people with certain medical conditions (diabetes) may be more likely to develop MD. It is therefore important to make sure you have regular health checks.
Smoking is a known risk factor for this eye condition.
A fantastic piece of technology we are thrilled to be able to offer to you as part of our continued service, is the Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) scan.
If our optometrists think you may be at risk of either having or developing certain eye diseases such as glaucoma, macular degeneration, or diabetic eye disease, they'll recommend you have an OCT scan. It only takes five to 10 minutes, but is integral in helping diagnose the aforementioned eye diseases.
As the OCT scan is non-invasive and scans your eye without touching it, you'll be in and out quicker than you can say "life is short, buy the glasses".
Treatment for MD is limited in most cases and prevention remains the best course of action. Studies suggest that diet is important in reducing the risk of MD and in slowing its progression. Eating a well balanced diet high in antioxidants, vitamins and other nutrients will decrease the risk of this eye condition getting worse. Certain combinations of vitamins could reduce the chance of MD getting worse by about one quarter. In particular the compounds Lutein and Xeanthanin have been shown to be of particular benefit; these can be found in dark green leafy vegetables such a spinach and silverbeet. Your optometrist can advise you on the best vitamin supplements which contain these compounds.