Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a chronic and painless disease of the macula and is the leading cause of irreversible vision loss and blindness in Australia.
Around one in seven Australians over the age of 50 years have some evidence of AMD or, to put it another way, 1.5 million Australians live with signs of AMD every day.
May is International Macular Month, marking the perfect time to raise awareness for AMD and low vision.
To help mark the event, Macular Disease Foundation Australia (MDFA) launched a new economic modelling report that shows that investment to save the sight of thousands of vulnerable older Australians will save the Government up to $2 billion.
The Investing to Save Sight: Health and Economic Benefits of Improving Macular Disease Treatment Persistence report shows cost and access as the main reasons why people with neovascular AMD stop treatment.
The resultsThe report shows that by increasing treatment persistence by 25 percent, the sight of an additional 22,000 Australians will be saved.
Dr Kathy Chapman, MDFA CEO, said the launch of the report is the start of a much larger conversation to support investment into systemic change to eye injection treatment for the macular disease community.
According to the MDFA, almost 15 percent of Australians aged over 80 have vision loss or blindness from age-related macular degeneration.
Early detection of age-related macular degeneration is crucial to saving sight. Age-related macular degeneration causes progressive loss of central vision but typically leaves the peripheral vision intact. For some people, it advances very slowly and may not impact vision. Unfortunately for others, the opposite is true.
During the early and intermediate stages, sufferers may not notice any symptoms, however once the disease progresses those impacted may notice:
- difficulty reading or any other activity which requires fine vision, even when wearing glasses
- distortion, where straight lines appear wavy or bent
- difficulty distinguishing faces
- dark or blurred patches in the centre of your vision
The only way to diagnose AMD in the early stages is through an eye examination, including a check of the macula. This can be done by an optometrist or ophthalmologist.
However, the MDFA said there are some things you can do to keep your macula healthy.
These include not smoking, doing regular exercise, adopting an eye-healthy diet, and protecting your eyes from the sun are all recommended.
The MDFA operates a free national helpline, providing information and advice about all types of macular diseases.
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