Eye problem you may not be aware of
Macular degeneration is one of New Zealand’s leading causes of blindness and can lead to severe loss of vision affecting as many as one in seven New Zealanders over the age of 50 years.
Macular degeneration affects your central vision.
Those over the age of 50, or with a family history of the condition, are more at risk.
Those who smoke are three times more likely to be at risk.
Visique Matamata optometrist, Mike Farrell said unfortunately there is currently no cure for macular degeneration, but treatment options and early detection through eye examinations is crucial if sight is to be preserved.
‘‘In the early stages, macular degeneration may not even be noticed, so early detection through regular eye examinations is the best protection,’’ he said.
‘‘People over the age of 50 should have their eyes examined at least every two years, including a macula check.
‘‘The macula is a small but vital area of the retina at the back of your eye, and is essential to being able to see.’’
Despite the 210,400 people being sufferers in New Zealand, the condition remains relatively unknown, it is important to educate people about the condition to ensure people can take the relevant steps to save their eyesight.
People must realise that failing eyesight is not just a part of getting older and it could be the onset of the chronic eye condition macular degeneration, which doesn’t necessarily cause ‘‘total blindness’’ as some peripheral vision is maintained, said Mike Farrell.
To raise awareness of this condition, Visique Matamata Optometrists is providing free amsler grids to residents which help to monitor vision.
If the lines on this grid look wavy, blurred or distorted, it indicates that something is wrong and you should visit an optometrist immediately.
Macular degeneration symptoms include: difficulty with reading, or any other activity that requires fine vision, distortion; where straight lines appear wavy or bent and difficulty distinguishing faces and dark patches or empty spaces appear in the centre of your vision.
A healthy diet and lifestyle can slow down progression of macular degeneration.
People should exercise regularly and eat a well-balanced diet including low GI carbohydrates, fish and nuts, etc.