Early action with macular degeneration can save sight. If you are in a higher risk group – over the age of 50, with a family history of the disease (Age-Related Macular Degeneration – AMD) and smokers – visit your optometrist for a comprehensive eye test, including a macula check.
Why do I need to check my macula?
One in seven people over the age of 50 have signs of age-related macular degeneration.
If you have diabetes and you’re over 50, you have a one in three chance of having diabetic retinopathy.
Knowing your risks, and having regular macula checks, is the only way to protect your vision.
AMD is related to ageing and affects people over 50 years of age. However, age-related macular degeneration is not a normal or inevitable consequence of ageing. If you are having difficulty with your vision, don’t dismiss it as just a part of getting older. Get an eye check as soon as possible.
Another key risk factor is family history, which is associated with an increased chance of developing AMD. If you have a direct family relative (parent or sibling) with AMD, you have a 50% risk of developing it also.
The other two major risk factors are smoking and not having regular eye checks.
Smoking is a risk factor for many diseases, including macular disease. People who smoke are at a greater risk of developing AMD and diabetic eye disease. They’re also at increased risk of vision loss.
Early detection of age-related macular degeneration is crucial to saving sight.
The only way to diagnose AMD in the early stages is through an eye examination, including a check of the macula. This can be done by your optometrist, who may use tests including:
- Eye examination – including checking the clearness of vision with a letter chart and testing of your visual field
- Dilation of the pupil – with special drops so they can look at your retina
- Optical coherence tomography (OCT) – a special camera is used to take a detailed photograph of your retina.
How does the OCT camera work?
The OCT machine uses a non-invasive laser to take an image of the layers of your retina and optic nerve. It can effectively view and capture detailed, accurate images.
The OCT exam is:
- Has minimal health risks
- Has no radiation
Your optometrist can see the results straight away and discuss the results with you during your appointment.