The macula is at the centre of your retina and is responsible for detailed central vision. Your macula helps you to read, drive, recognise faces and colours and see clearly. When your macula begins to break down, it affects your central vision and this condition is called macular degeneration. Your central vision becomes impaired and if left untreated, can lead to blindness.
There are two forms of macular degeneration: dry and wet. The dry form causes a gradual loss of central vision whilst the wet form can result in sudden vision loss.
|Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of vision loss worldwide||Age, smoking and family history are key risk factors in developing AMD||Women develop more cases of AMD than men – 65% compared to 35%||Diets high in vitamins C and E, beta-carotene and zinc help to reduce the risk of AMD|
You might not experience any obvious symptoms in the early stages of macular degeneration. The first thing you may notice is a gradual or sudden change in the quality of your vision or straight lines becoming distorted. Symptoms include:
Although macular degeneration can affect anyone, it’s most common in people over the age of 50, smokers and those with a family history of the condition. Other risk factors are obesity, high blood pressure and having unchecked cardiovascular disease.
Early detection is vital in reducing the severity of symptoms – that’s why it’s so important to get your eyes tested regularly. Because macular degeneration has many different symptoms and in its early stages they can be hard to detect, even the smallest change to your vision should never be ignored.
Our optometrists use the latest technology to detect macular degeneration, sometimes before symptoms even occur. This is done by examining your macula through an Optical Coherence Tomography scan (OCT). OCT scans provide the most comprehensive image of the eye available today.
Using 3D imaging technology, an OCT scan produces a highly detailed internal image of your eye, delivering a similar level of detail to an ultrasound or MRI. The best thing about OCT is that it allows your optometrist to clearly see the internal structure of your eye. This helps them to detect possible signs of macular degeneration before they progress into something more serious and result in permanent damage. The scan takes just a few minutes to complete and is completely pain-free as there’s no direct contact with your eye.
The type of macular degeneration you have will determine your treatment options. Your Health Partners optometrist will discuss the best treatment plan for you depending on your condition and lifestyle.
Please note that at present, there’s no Medicare rebate available for Optical Coherence Tomography. However, our members do receive a discount on this cost.