What is macular degeneration?
The centre of your retina is called your macula. Responsible for your detailed central vision, the 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 progress to legal blindness.
There are two forms of macular degeneration: wet and dry. While the dry form results in a gradual loss of central vision, those with the wet form can experience a sudden loss of vision.
Am I at risk of developing macular degeneration?
Although Macular Degeneration can affect anyone, it is most common in people over the age of 50 years, smokers and those with a family history of the condition.
Early detection of macular degeneration
Early detection of macular degeneration is crucial for reducing the severity of symptoms and encouraging a better outcome. Macular degeneration has many different symptoms and in its early stages these symptoms can be hard to detect. For this reason, any changes to your vision should not be ignored.
Fortunately, at Health Partners we are equipped with the latest in technology and have the ability to detect macular degeneration sometimes before symptoms occur. We do this by examining your macula with every standard eye test and where deemed appropriate, doing an OCT scan (Optical Coherence Tomography).
Using OCT to detect macular degeneration in its earliest stages
At Health Partners Optical we’re serious about the health of your eyes and that’s why we use OCT — the most comprehensive eye test available to assist in detecting macular degeneration.
OCT uses 3D imaging technology to achieve highly detailed internal imaging of your eye with an optimal resolution of just a few micrometres. It provides similar information 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 can help them to detect possible signs of macular degeneration before they progress into something more serious and permanent damage is done.
The scan is safe and takes just a few minutes to complete. Plus, you’ll experience no discomfort as there is no direct contact with your eye.
Key symptoms of macular degeneration
- Difficulty reading, driving or completing other activities that require fine vision
- Distorted vision — straight lines appear wavy or slightly bent
- Distinguishing faces becomes difficult
- Dark patches or empty spaces appear in the centre of your vision
Keeping your eyes healthy
The following eye health checklist is recommended to keep your eyes healthy
- Have your eyes tested regularly ensuring that the test includes checking your macula
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle; don’t smoke, exercise regularly and maintain a healthy weight
- Eat a healthy well-balanced diet including fish, dark green leafy vegetables and fresh fruits and nuts and limit your intake of fats
- Consider taking a suitable supplement, in consultation with your doctor
- Protect your eyes from sunlight (UV) exposure by wearing UV protected sunglasses
Scoromia (central blind spot)
Loss of contrast sensitivity
Loss of visual acuity