This week is Macular Degeneration Awareness Week. Macular degeneration (MD) is the leading cause of blindness among people over 50 years of age. It involves the loss of core vision needed to read, drive and recognise faces.
While you can’t change your genes or your age, you may be able to reduce your risk of developing MD by taking these steps.
Eye tests – have your eyes tested and macula checked regularly with an optometrist or ophthalmologist.
Stop smoking – after ageing, smoking is the second-biggest risk factor. Smokers are three times as likely to develop macular degeneration as non-smokers, and they are also likely to develop it at an earlier age.
Eat well – foods rich in omega 3 fats and antioxidants are great for eye health. See if you can eat fish at least twice a week, and regularly include green, leafy vegetables, blueberries, strawberries, yellow vegetables, nuts and seeds.
Maintain a generally healthy lifestyle – controlling your weight and exercising regularly will help to look after your blood vessels, including those in your eyes.
Wear sunglasses – to protect your eyes from UV rays when outside during the day, always slip on a pair of shades and make sure they meet the Australian standards.
Use an Amsler grid – to check for possible symptoms or sudden changes in vision, use this easy, at-home self-monitoring tool. While the grid should be used daily, it doesn’t take the place of having regular eye tests and macula checks. For a free Amsler grid, call the Macular Disease Foundation Australia on 1800 111 709 or order online.
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