Although lockdown restrictions are slowly easing, the COVID-19 environment has caused most of us to change the way we live our lives and look after our vision.
Traditionally May is known as Macula Month, the time of year we focus on helping you understand the risks of macular disease – the most common being age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
AMD is the single biggest cause of severe vision loss and blindness in Australia. Many people do not know they are at risk.
A comprehensive eye examination with your optometrist to check your macula will help you identify whether you are at risk of macular disease.
AMD Risk Factors
An easy way to remember AMD risk factors is to keep your vision S.A.F.E:
Smoking causes you to be four times more likely to develop AMD
One in seven people over the age of 50 have signs of AMD
- Family History
A family history is the main risk factor for AMD
- Eye Exams
A comprehensive eye exam is the only way to ensure AMD is picked up in its early stages
Healthy Vision Tips
While spending a lot more time at home, and out of your normal routine, it is important to know how to care for your eyes.
Here are four tips for keeping your eyes healthy and knowing the warning signs for when you need to seek help.
- Keep AMD Appointments
If you have already been diagnosed with a macular condition like wet AMD or Diabetic Macular Edema, and you are receiving eye injections or laser treatment, it is important to attend those appointments. Missing an urgent appointment for an eye injection or laser treatment can cause irreparable vision loss.
- Identifying Eye Emergencies
If you experience sudden changes in your vision, have eye pain or discomfort, new red eye symptoms, flashes of light or new floaters in your vision, recent eye trauma or new onset double vision – call your optometrist for advice immediately.
If you are concerned about leaving your home to go to an eye appointment, be assured that your local optometrist has put in place extra sterilisation and distancing protocols to ensure patient safety.
- The Amsler Grid
Use an Amsler Grid to help you detect changes in your vision. If you are over 50, use an Amsler grid once a week. It takes a minute or two. If you already have a diagnosed macular disease, use it daily. Your local optometrist will be able to provide you with an Amsler Grid.
- Have an Eye Healthy Diet
We encourage you to have an eye healthy diet that is rich in nutrients to support a healthy macula. It is as simple as eating oily fish a couple of times a week, eating plenty of dark green leafy vegetables and fresh fruit daily, and having a handful of nuts a week. Choose low glycemic index carbohydrates and limit your intake of fats. You can find recipe ideas by downloading a free Macula Menu from the Macular Disease Foundation.
If you have any questions about macular disease and whether you are at risk, or how to keep your vision safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, contact your local Eyecare Plus optometrist or the Macular Disease Foundation.
MDFA has a range of free publications, covering everything from disease information, to diet and supplements to support macular health. The National MDFA Helpline is 1800 111 709.
As restrictions ease, now is a good time to book a comprehensive eye examination with your local Eyecare Plus practice so they can check your macula to help you identify whether you are at risk of macular disease.