May 21-May 27 is Macular Degeneration awareness week for 2017. It is a great opportunity for us to increase our understanding of the disease and how best to combat it.

Macular Degeneration is Australia’s leading cause of blindness and severe vision loss. It affects approximately 1 in 7 Australians over the age of 50. Macular Degeneration is the general name given to a group of chronic eye diseases that causes a gradual loss of central vision. It leaves peripheral and side vision intact. The loss of central vision affects the ability to drive, recognise faces and perform day to day activities such as reading.

While it occurs most frequently in those over the age of 50, it is NOT a normal consequence of aging and thus regular eye checks in those over 50 are imperative in preventing its onset. It is a painless disease and early signs can only be detected with an appropriate eye test.

Family history is a major contributing factor in the development of macular degeneration. If there is a direct family link it is estimated that one has a 50% chance of developing the disease.

Smoking is another major risk factor for macular degeneration with smokers 3-4 times more likely to develop the disease. Other potential risk factors include: high blood pressure, increased weight and high exposure to UV light, although the causal link is less clear.

Ultimately early detection is the best way to prevent macular degeneration and save sight!

For more information on Macular Degeneration Awareness Week please go to www.mdfoundation.com.au or call the Macular Degeneration foundation on 1800 111 709

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