Top 11 Tips for Eye Allergy Season

As beautiful as spring is, nearly 20 per cent of people in Australians will suffer from eye allergies – allergic conjunctivitis – eye redness, swelling, conjunctivitis, eye itchiness and a burning feeling in the eye or the eyes can become watery.

Allergic conjunctivitis is not contagious so cannot be passed on from person to person.

Symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis are usually mild to moderate.

How can allergic conjunctivitis be treated?

When your eyes are irritated, they can respond to simple treatments to effectively reduce your suffering. These include:

1. Cold Compress

Bath your eyes with cold water, ice packs and cold water compresses.

2. Home Adjustments

Sweep and clean your house with a vacuum cleaner that has a high-efficiency particulate air filter that can trap 99.97% of microscopic particles in the air.

3. Avoid Peak Pollen Hours

The peak pollen times are in the morning from around 8 to 10am and in the afternoon from 5 to 7pm. If you can, stay inside during these hours and avoid areas with a lot of grass, flowers, or trees.

4. Wear Sunglasses and a Mask

If you have to commute during peak pollen times, wear a mask and sunglasses.

5. Use Eye Drops for Allergies

Lubricating eye drops can be used to reduce itching and swelling and to clean the allergens out of the tear film of the eyes.

6. Keep Windows Closed

On high pollen days stay at home and keep the windows closed to keep out the pollen.

7. Eat Healthy

Eat more fruit and leafy green vegetables as well as fish such as salmon, which is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which can improve your allergy resistance.

8. Exercise

150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week will help improve your hay fever symptoms and reduce your stress levels.

9. Avoid alcohol and smoking

Alcohol and smoking make allergy symptoms worse. Wine and beer have a high level of histamines and smoking causes a release of histamines. Prevent an allergic reaction by avoiding alcohol and smoking.

10. Wash Hair and Clothes

To reduce allergic symptoms, take off your shoes before you enter the house to keep the allergens outside. Wash your clothes and hair, particularly on high pollen days, as pollen sticks to your hair then rubs off on your pillow.

11. See Your Optometrist

Many people suffer from undiagnosed eye allergies. It is important to see your optometrist before your mild symptoms get worse and cause serious damage to your eye.

If you have symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis book an appointment with your local Eyecare Plus optometrist to discuss treatment options.

 

 

 

The Joy of Spring Allergy Season

Spring is arguably our most loved season. The days are warmer, flowers are blooming, and the bees are busy pollinating. But, for many, spring can be miserable.

For nearly 20 per cent of people in Australia springtime is hay fever (allergic rhinitis) season – sneezing combined with a blocked, itchy, watery or runny nose.

When exposed to allergens in spring such as pollens from flowers, grasses and weeds, allergic rhinitis causes inflammation of the sinuses with the vast majority of people also suffering from seasonal allergic conjunctivitis.

What are the symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis?

In spring, people who have allergic conjunctivitis can suffer from eye redness, swelling, conjunctivitis, eye itchiness and a burning feeling in the eye or the eyes can become watery.

Allergic conjunctivitis is not contagious so cannot be passed on from person to person.

What are the types of allergic conjunctivitis?

There are two main types of allergic conjunctivitis – Seasonal allergic conjunctivitis (SAC) and perennial allergic conjunctivitis (PAC). These are usually grouped together and affect 15 to 20% of the global population.

SAC is more common and, as the name suggests, occurs seasonally in spring and summer when pollen levels are highest. PAC symptoms occur any time of the year as a result of exposure to non-seasonal allergens such as cigarette smoke and dust mites.

What can you do about itchy eyes?

When your eyes feel itchy from hay fever your first instinct is to rub them. First off, don’t itch your eyes with your fingers.

Rubbing your eyes is one of the single worst things you can do to your eyes.

Our hands, as we know from the plethora of communication about cross infection over the past year and a half, are harbingers of disease.

As public health messages highlight, our hands contain millions of bacteria and viruses that can cause respiratory infections from the sniffles to the flu and, as we now know, COVID-19.

Proper hand washing will help prevent the spread of these viruses from a person to themselves and to others.

It is hard to not rub your eyes when they are itchy, but that immediate relief can be detrimental down the track. We feel a momentary relief when we rub our eyes because we stimulate our lacrimal glands which produce tears that lubricate and soothe the eyes.

If we continuously rub our eyes or rub them too hard, we can damage the cornea, the clear front window of the eye. We can also break the tiny blood vessels around the eyes causing dark circles.

The more pressure we place on our eyes with our fingers, the more likely our eyes will get red and puffy.

“Worse still: too much irritation of the cornea can cause or perpetuate harmful conditions; one such condition is the little-known keratoconus,” warns optometrist, Dr. Luke Arundel, Chief Clinical Officer, Optometry Australia.

What is Keratoconus?

Keratoconus affects 1 in 2,000 people. It is a “progressive, degenerative eye disease that thins the cornea.

“The cornea can then start to bulge or protrude outward in a cone-like shape. This conical shape distorts how the cornea refracts light, which can result in blurred vision,” says Dr. Arundel.

Keratoconus symptoms include blurred or cloudy vision, light sensitivity, halos around lights and the need to change your spectacle prescription frequently.

There is no cure for keratoconus, however, depending on the severity of the condition, specially-made contact lenses and spectacles can be used to help improve vision.

If you suffer from eye allergies, it is going to be hard to not rub your eyes when they are itchy but it important for the long term health of your eyes to not rub them.

When you have irritated eyes, they can respond to simple eye treatments to effectively reduce your suffering, including cold compress to bathe your eyes or lubricating eye drops which can be used to reduce itching and swelling and to clean the allergens out of the tear film of the eyes.

If problems persist, contact your local Eyecare Plus optometrist to discuss treatment options.

Top 7 Tips for Winter Eye Care

Here are our top seven tips for taking care of your eyes during the cold winter months.

1. Wear Sunglasses in Winter

It is important to wear sunglasses all year round, particularly in winter as the sun can be at its most damaging. Wear sunglasses in winter to protect your eyes from harmful effects of UV rays. The sun sits lower on the horizon and can be at its most damaging in winter.

2. Wear Only Category 3 Sunglasses

Sunglasses in Australia must be tested and labelled according to the Australian Standard with a lens category 3 rating which provides a high level of sun glare reduction and UV protection.

3. Use Artificial Tears Eye Drop for Dry Eyes

With more time spend indoors in air conditioning and in front of the fire your eyes can become dry and irritated. If you suffer from dry eye in winter, try to sit further away from heat and use artificial eye drops to relieve the soreness that comes from having dry eyes.

4. Wash Your Hands

Winter is a time of year when people are more susceptible to viral infections such as conjunctivitis or pink eye which is spread through direct contact. Protect your eyes from cross infection by washing your hands regularly throughout the day and do not rub your eyes.

5. Apply the 20-20-20 rule

To give your eyes a break when using a screen for extended periods of time, apply the 20-20-20 rule. For every 20 minutes you spend in front of a screen, look at an object in the distance, 20 feet away (or 6 metres away), for 20 seconds. This will give your eyes a break and help alleviate dry eye syndrome.

6. Wear Sunglasses while Driving

When you get behind the wheel, you should always keep a pair of sunglasses in your consol. They are as important to your eye protection as your windscreen, even more so as your windscreen offers little protection from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays.

7. Protect Your Eyes

Wear sunglasses with UV protection to protect your eyes from prolonged exposure to the sun which can damage your eyes slowly over a lifetime resulting in serious eye conditions such as cataracts, pterygium and photokeratitis (or snow blindness). Sunglasses or goggles will also protect your eyes from the harsh winter elements such as the wind, debris, dust, and snow.

If you have further questions about how to best care for your eyes this winter contact your local Eyecare Plus optometrist.

Wear Sunglasses; Especially in Winter

We know the dangers of prolonged exposure to the sun and understand that we need to wear sunglasses in summer, particularly as Australia has the highest levels of Ultraviolet (UV) radiation in the world – but what about when the temperature drops?

Do our eyes need to receive the same protection from UV rays in winter as we do in summer? Do we need to wear UV protected sunglasses in winter?

The short answer is, yes.

Wear Sunglasses in Winter

It is a common misconception that we don’t need to wear sunglasses in winter. In fact, more than 76 per cent of Australians believe wearing sunglasses in colder months isn’t necessary.

It may surprise you, but the sun can be at its most damaging in winter.

It is the time of year when the sun is lowest on the horizon, which is why you squint when intense glare pours through your windscreen on your drive home.

By wearing a quality pair of ultraviolet (UV) protected sunglasses you will not only protect your eyes from glare, but from the harmful UV light that can cause tissue damage to your conjunctiva and cornea.

Australian Standard: Lens Category 3

All sunglasses in Australia must be UV protected, whether they are worn for fashion, work, social or sport. They need to be tested and labelled according to the Australian standards which sets the allowable UV transmission limits for all sunglasses sold in Australia.

Sunglasses sold here must have a lens category 3 rating which provides a “high level of sun glare reduction and good UV protection”.

Winter Eye Damage

The winter sun can significantly damage your eyes as UV levels are above three in many parts of Australia. This level can place your eyes at risk of short term or permanent damage.

It can cause serious eye conditions including cataracts, pterygium and photokeratitis.

These eye conditions do not impact our eyes overnight, the results are “generally cumulative,” says Sophie Koh, National Professional Services Advisor, Optometry Australia.

“If you are not utilising eye protection when outside from early childhood eye problems are likely to develop later in life.”

Even when the sun is behind a bank of clouds your eyes are not protected from harmful UV rays. In fact, a staggering “90 per cent of the sun’s UV rays can filter through even the thickest cloud cover,” says Ms. Koh.

Eye Sunburn

The sun can burn our eyes in winter.

Eye sunburn – photokeratitis (or snow blindness) – is an eye condition caused by overexposure to UV rays. It occurs to people who are exposed to high levels of UV radiation when the sun is reflected off surfaces such as the water or snow affecting people who do outdoor activities such as skiing or water sports.

Sunburn to the eye also happens to people who work in welding. Welder’s Flash Burn occurs when a person who uses a welding torch is exposed to the bright flash of UV radiation indoors when they are welding. Flash burn is a type of sunburn to the eye.

It is important that we wear sunglasses with UV protection all year round to protect our eyes from harmful UV rays.

Protect your eyes in winter. Consult your local Eyecare Plus optometrist for advice on the right sunglasses to wear for UV protection.

Men’s Vision: Top 5 Tips to Better Eye Health

Men are increasing less likely to attend to their eye health than women, according to the latest Medicare Report on the use of optometry services by age from 2013 to 2020.

In 2020, 42.27% of men used an optometry service compared to 57.73% of women. This is a figure that has been steadily dropping each year for the past ten.

It shows that men are continuing to neglect their eye health to the detriment of their overall wellbeing. They blame work or their busy schedule for not looking after their eye health.

As men’s eyes age, it is important that they are encouraged to look after them.

Eye Health Tips

As we get older, our eyes, like the rest of our body, ages, but there are things we can do to maintain good vision and healthy eyes.

  1. Ageing Eye

We need to be mindful of the implications of our ageing eye.

When we move into our 40s, we have problems focusing on things up close and develop presbyopia. If dimming or clouding of vision occurs cataracts may be an issue. These are things your optometrist can help you with.

  1. Food for Eye Health

Aside from wearing sunglasses, or safety glasses, to protect your eyes, men can look after their eye health by eating healthy – fish, nuts, wholegrain, leafy green vegetables, berries, and citrus fruits – foods pumped with vitamins A and C and omega-3 fatty acids are great foods for eyesight improvement.

  1. Work the 20-20-20 Rule for Eyes

If you are spending hours on end looking at the computer screen, give your eyes a break by applying the 20-20-20 rule, simply look 20 feet in the distance every 20 minutes for 20 seconds.

  1. Do Not Smoke

We know from the general health messages that smoking is bad for us in general. We know it causes heart disease and lung cancer. What you may not know is that studies highlight that smoking is a major contributing factor to the early onset of age-related macular degeneration.

Smoking also ages us quickly particularly around the eyes. Nicotine causes the blood vessels in the upper layer of your skin to narrow, resulting in a disrupted flow of blood, increasing wrinkles and dark circles around the eyes.

  1. Stop Eye Rubbing

When our eyes itch our natural tendency is to rub our eyes, but rubbing your eyes is bad for your eyesight.

We would not rub our eyes up against a keyboard but that is basically what we are doing when we touch our eyes without washing our hands. Our unwashed hands carry hundreds of thousands of tiny bacteria.

When your eyes get itchy or you have something stuck in them, clean your hands for at least 20 seconds, using soap and clean water and dry them with a clean towel, then, wash your eyes out with sterile saline or a lubricant eye drop.

Artificial tears can help stop the itch that makes you want to rub your eyes and will keep them hydrated.

Encourage men in your life to book a regular eye examination with their local Eyecare Plus optometrist.

 

Men’s Eye Health: No Point Toughing It Out

Men tend to adopt a “she’ll be right” attitude when It comes to their eye health, says Optometry Australia’s Chief Clinical Officer, Luke Arundel.

“They soldier on or tough it out when it comes to their health in general and their eye health is no different.”

According to the latest Medicare Report on the use of optometry services by age from 2013 to 2020, men are increasing less likely to attend to their eye health than women.

Last year 42.27% of men used an optometry service compared to 57.73% of women, a figure which has been dropping each year for the past ten.

It is a significant stat which highlights that men are continuing to neglect the health of their eyes to the detriment of their overall wellbeing.

Today, with more knowledge and awareness at our fingertips, men are still baulking at seeing doctors, following through on their appointments, and blaming work or their busy schedule for not looking after their eye health.

Men’s health advocates agree that men and their families need to have meaningful discussions about the factors that keep them healthy in body and mind.

A man’s eye health, in particular, his ageing eye, is an important part of that conversation.

Prevent Vision Loss

As men grow older, they need to be more diligent and take greater care of their eye health to avoid vision loss from preventable eye conditions such as macular degeneration and glaucoma.

“Vision loss prevents healthy and independent ageing,” says Luke Arundel.

“When you consider that 90% of vision loss is preventable or treatable, having regular eye examinations by your optometrist should be part of everyone’s commitment to living their best life.

“It is simple, easy and painless to get an eye test, one that will help preserve good vision for life.”

Vision loss impacts our overall health, placing a person at a greater risk of developing depression and anxiety.

If a person’s vision is not managed correctly by having regular eye examinations, it can also negatively impact their sense of self-worth and social connectedness, particularly if they lose their driver’s license.

Eye Safety

Eye safety and eye injury are significant areas for men to be more mindful of.

Men who work in trades and as labourers are less willing to wear safety glasses or protective eyewear when working, and yet they are at the greatest risk of a foreign object damaging their eyesight.

In fact, men accounted for 83% of cases in which optometrists had to remove a foreign body embedded in the eye. And it is not just at work that men need to wear safety glasses to protect their eyes from flying shards of metal or timber, consider too work done in the backyard or garage.

It is important that men (of any age) to wear safety eyewear when gardening, doing home handyman work, mowing, basically anything where a small particle, flying object, or piece of dust could fly into the eye.

UV Protection for Eyes

Men’s eyes need to be protected when outside.

Sun protection is a message we constantly hear, however, even though men know the risk of sun exposure in Australia, 31 per cent do not own UV protective sunglasses and 32 per cent believe sunglasses are unnecessary.

Living in Australia it is critical for all of us to understand the consequences of sun damage to the eye.

Prolonged exposure to direct UV light from the sun and reflective light can significantly damage the eyes and can result in serious eye conditions including cataracts, macular degeneration, pterygium or photokeratitis.

When outside – in summer and winter (in fact all year round) – your eyes should be protected from harmful UV rays by wearing sunglasses with UV protection.

Clouds will not protect your eyes from these harmful rays, nor will shade as your eyes can be damaged by indirect light, from the side or reflected off those bright surfaces you find yourself squinting at, or looking away from, such as the footpath, snow, sand, or water.

Encourage all men in your life to book a regular eye examination with their local Eyecare Plus optometrist. It is the easiest way to combat preventable vision loss which could impact a man’s overall sense of wellbeing.

Preventing Myopia Progression

Myopia (or near-sightedness), is one of the most common vision disorders in the world.

More than 90% of myopia cases develop in early childhood. The good news is that there are steps parents and children can take to protect a child’s vision from deteriorating.

Of all factors that contribute to myopia progression, environmental factors play the most significant role.

Whilst research indicates that our genes are partly responsible for myopia as it tends to run in families (a person with one short-sighted parent has three times the risk of developing myopia or six times the risk if both parents are short-sighted), it is environmental factors that are driving the increase of myopia worldwide, especially in countries where children do not spend much time outside.

We cannot do anything about our genetics, but we can do something about environmental influences which play an important role in the health of a child’s eyes.

Are Screens to Blame?

Screen time is a massive contributor.

As technology improves, kids are using their devices more than reading hard copy books.

Because it is a passive process, we see kids glued to their screens for extended periods.

The majority of Australian children are spending significantly more than the recommended two-hour daily screen-time limit watching television, on computers (including mobile devices) and playing electronic games.

The statistics paint a disturbing picture.

At the vulnerable pre-school age of four to five, studies show that children already average more than two hours on a screen each day. By 12 to 13, this increases to more than three to four hours a day.

To put this into perspective, this means that in early adolescence up to 30% of a child’s waking time is spent in front of a screen. A figure that ramps up significantly when a child gets older as their screens become more of a lifeline to their friendship groups.

Kids are now spending as much as seven hours per day on a screen. Their eyes have never had to work so hard, with more children than ever developing myopia.

We need to help our kids adjust how they use technology, encourage, and empower them to develop healthy device habits.

What are the Symptoms of Myopia (Near-sightedness)?

  1. Screwing up their eyes or squinting to see objects in the distance
  2. Having difficulty seeing the blackboard/whiteboard at school
  3. Sitting close to the television or needing to sit at the front of the classroom.

What Can We Do to Prevent Myopia?

Kids experience digital eyestrain as much as adults. They can experience dry eye, headaches, and blurry vision. These symptoms can be temporary, frequent, or persistent.

Whilst screens are an everyday part of life it is important for kids to break up the long periods of time they spend on their screens.

  1. 20-20-20 rule

To help restore some life balance and limit the large amount of exposure they have to their screens we recommend applying the 20-20-20 rule.

For every 20 minutes your child spends looking at a screen, ask them to look at an object in the distance, 20 feet away (or 6 metres away), for 20 seconds. This simple exercise that will give their eyes a much needed break.

  1. Get Kids Outside

Spending more than two hours outdoors each day will significantly help your child reduce the risk of developing myopia.

If your kids are outside playing, encourage them to look around and use that full range of vision every day.

  1. Put The Device Down!

Spending too much time indoors and performing a lot of near vision work without a break on a screen plays a substantial role in increasing the risk of developing myopia.

  1. Early Detection Creates Prevention

Early diagnosis and intervention are the keys to slowing the progression of myopia.

To do that, contact your local Eyecare Plus optometrist for your child to have their eyes examined. If they do not have a vision condition, fantastic! If they do, your Eyecare Plus optometrists will work out a management plan to make sure their vision does not get worse.

What is Myopia (Near-sightedness) and What are the Symptoms?

Vision impairment due to uncorrected myopia is on the rise.

Myopia (also known as near-sightedness) is one of the most common vision disorders in the world. It is a leading cause of blindness in the world and a leading cause of visual impairment in children.

The projections of the global prevalence of myopia are staggering; predicted to rise from 28% to 50% of the world’s population by 2050.

More than 90% of myopia cases develop in early childhood but the good news is that there are steps parents and children can take to protect a child’s vision from deteriorating.

There has never been a more important time to be informed about myopia and make healthy vision decisions.

What is myopia?

Myopia is an eye condition involving abnormal elongation of the eyeball or curvature of the cornea, (the clear window at the front of the eye).

Myopia affects your distance vision; you can see objects that are close quite clearly, but have trouble viewing objects that are far away.

Even though teenagers and adults can develop myopia it usually begins in school-age children and can continue to progress until the eye stops growing.

Why the Urgency?

The reason why there is such a level of urgency around the myopia message is that the earlier myopia starts in a child’s life, the more likely it is that it will progress to high myopia, where there is an increased risk of permanent vision loss through glaucoma, cataract, and problems with the retina; the sensor layer at the back of the eye.

Myopia needs to be taken seriously, particularly at a young age.

What are the Symptoms of Myopia (Near-sightedness)?

  1. Screwing up their eyes or squinting to see objects in the distance
  2. Difficulty seeing the blackboard/whiteboard at school
  3. Sitting close to the television or needing to sit at the front of the classroom.

Early diagnosis and intervention are the keys to slowing the progression of myopia.

To do that, contact your local Eyecare Plus optometrist for your child to have their eyes examined.

If they do not have problems with their vision, brilliant! If they do, your Eyecare Plus optometrist will work out a management plan to make sure their vision does not get worse.

Myopia is projected to become a leading cause of vision impairment and blindness. We can help our children by taking action early.

The Growing Threat of Diabetic Eye Disease

Too many Australians have closed their eyes to diabetic eye disease, the leading cause of blindness among our working-age population, a new study has revealed.

A YouGov poll conducted early last year of 1,049 Australians commissioned by Macular Disease Foundation Australia (MDFA) discovered that only 29% of Australians aged 50 to 70 have heard of diabetic retinopathy (DR), while only 26% are aware of diabetic macular oedema (DMO), a complication of DR that threatens the central vision.

Although 82% identified the eyes as a body part that diabetes can affect – higher than feet (74%), kidneys (68%), and even the heart (53%) – the lack of awareness of what these conditions are called means many people who are at risk remain in the dark about these sight-threatening complications.

Macula Month

MDFA commissioned this study to mark ‘Macula Month’, an annual awareness campaign each May, urging those at-risk to visit their optometrist for a comprehensive eye exam – including a check of the macula.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic eye disease (DED) are the most common conditions that threaten the macula and detailed central vision.

Diabetic retinopathy is the most common diabetic eye disease and the top cause of blindness in working-age Australians, affecting between 300,000 and 400,000 people.

MDFA CEO Dee Hopkins is concerned that most people cannot even name the disease.

“Diabetic retinopathy claims the eyesight of more working-age Australians than any other eye condition, yet less than 30% of people know its name,” Ms Hopkins says.

“But we do know that early action can save sight. It’s crucial that everyone over 50 – and everyone diagnosed with diabetes – has regular eye checks with their eye health professional to detect any changes to the eye early.”

60 seconds Could Save Your Sight

This year’s Macula Month campaign will promote Check My Macula a short 60 second online quiz that reveals your individual risk factors for AMD and diabetic eye disease. It then helps you make an appointment with your nearest optometrist or schedule a reminder to have an eye exam in the future.

Everyone with diabetes is at risk of developing diabetic retinopathy, and the longer a person has diabetes, the greater the likelihood of the disease.

Diabetic Retinopathy Numbers Surge

Around 1.7 million Australians live with diabetes – a figure expected to climb past two million by 2025, driving a surge in diabetic eye disease.

Almost everyone with type 1 diabetes and more than 60% of people with type 2 diabetes will develop some form of diabetic retinopathy within 20 years of diagnosis. One in three people over the age of 50 with diabetes has the condition.

MDFA Ambassador and 2020 Australian of the Year, Adelaide ophthalmologist Dr James Muecke AM, says people with diabetes can take active steps to reverse their risk of vision loss.

“Diabetic retinopathy is the only reversible macular condition,” Dr Muecke says.

“If you control your diabetes, or if you are able to put your type 2 diabetes into remission, you can turn this blinding disease around. We want people to not only understand the name of the disease –we want everyone to take action to avoid its devastating outcome.

“This is easily done through regular eye examinations and managing your diabetes. When the disease is picked up early, you can make lifestyle changes and access good treatments that maintain sight and prevent severe vision loss,” he says.

Book an eye test with your local Eyecare Plus optometrist this Macula Month to have a comprehensive eye test and to check your macula.

Macular Degeneration: 60 Seconds Could Save Your Sight

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is Australia’s leading cause of blindness with more than 1.4 million people showing evidence of the disease.

It is often regarded as a condition that only affects the elderly, which is why Karen Russell, a Sydney businesswoman, was so shocked when she was diagnosed with AMD in her late 40s.

Karen’s Story

Karen was originally diagnosed with AMD by her optometrist in 2014.

“I can’t tell you how outraged I was,” she said.

“I hadn’t even turned 50 and I was being diagnosed with a disease associated with the elderly. I felt it was something I shouldn’t have been diagnosed with for another 25 years.”

Karen has a family history of AMD, but she was unaware of the hereditary risk of the disease. Her mother Brenda was diagnosed with AMD in her 70s, which meant Karen had a one-in-two chance of developing the condition as well.

Family history is one of the four major risk factors for AMD, alongside smoking, being over 50 years of age, and failing to have regular eye examinations by an optometrist.

What is AMD

AMD is a chronic, progressive disease that destroys central vision, leaving peripheral vision intact.

There is effective macular degeneration treatment for the most aggressive form of the disease – wet (neovascular) AMD – but there is no cure. For most people living with AMD – those in the early or intermediate stage or living with late-stage dry AMD – there are no treatment options.

But lifestyle changes – such as regular eye exams to monitor any changes to your vision, as well as eating a macula-friendly diet rich in oily fish and dark leafy greens – can help keep your eyes healthy and can help slow the progression of AMD.

Early Action Saves Sight

Since her diagnosis in 2014 Karen has taken the right steps to maintain her vision.

She has had regular eye exams – including having her macula checked – by her optometrist, as well as implementing lifestyle changes, eating more oily fish and dark green leafy greens.

Today, Karen’s eyesight is good, and she is still able to drive, read and paint.

“It’s not something I struggle with on a day-to-day basis, but it is something I worry about – something that niggles at me. Every now and again, I’m confronted with the fact that in the future, there are things I might not be able to do,” Karen says.

“What scares me the most is losing the ability to read. I understand things by reading. I can’t absorb when people are telling me things – I need to read to understand.”

How to reduce macular degeneration?

You can reduce your risk of getting AMD and slow its progression if you have already been diagnosed, by following four simple tips.

  1. Regular Eye Exams

To detect AMD early you need to have an eye test once every two years if you are over the age of 50, then once a year when you reach 65.

  1. Do Not Smoke

Smokers have a three to four times higher risk of AMD than non-smokers. The disease will occur five to 10 years earlier for people who smoke.

  1. Exercise

Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

  1. Diet

Eat a macula-friendly diet including fish two or three times a week, dark-green leafy vegetables, and fresh fruit every day, a handful of nuts each week, low GI carbohydrates, and limit the amount of fats in your diet.

What is Your Risk?

May is Macula Month.

This annual initiative of Macular Disease Foundation Australia (MDFA) to raise awareness of macular disease is the perfect time to learn if you are at risk of this disease which destroys central vision.

This year, MDFA is encouraging Australians aged over 50 to head to Check My Macula to learn more about the disease.

Developed by MDFA, Check My Macula is a short online quiz that tells you your individual risk factors of macular disease, then helps you book an eye examination – including a macula check – with your local Eyecare Plus optometrist.

Sixty seconds could save your sight. One minute and five easy questions is all it takes to discover your personal risks, then take early action to preserve your vision.

To discover your level of risk for macular disease, go to Check Your Macula, then book an eye exam with your nearest Eyecare Plus optometrist. If you or a loved one have any questions about macular disease, contact the Macular Disease Foundation who are available to help you or call their free National Helpline on 1800 111 709.