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One in seven Australians over the age of fifty has some evidence of macular degeneration,1 so it’s probably much more common than you realise.
While anyone can develop macular degeneration, available data suggests that you have a higher risk if you smoke or have a family history of the condition.
It’s extremely important that you get your eyes checked regularly, particularly if you are in a high-risk group.
Regular eye checks after the age of 50 are important. If you have difficulty reading, distinguishing faces, or start to see dark or empty patches in your central vision, get your eyes checked immediately.
There are also simple home tests that can indicate if you have any visual changes worth investigating.
Prescription glasses can bend light to help it focus on the retina, but they can’t correct any damage in the retina itself.
The forms of macular degeneration that affect younger people are very rare and usually caused by a specific gene defect.2 The most common form is Stargardt’s Disease, which may develop from 10 years of age (although vision loss may not occur until in your twenties or thirties).3
Knowing your family history in relation to eye diseases is extremely helpful.
The advanced stage of macular degeneration can be divided into two types:
Mitchell et al. Age-related macular degeneration. Lancet. 2018 Sep 29;392(10153):1147-1159. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(18)31550-2.
Keel et al. Prevalence of age-related macular degeneration in Australia: The Australian National Eye Health Survey. JAMA Ophthalmol. 2017 Nov 1;135(11):1242-1249. doi: 10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2017.4182. ↩︎
The information on this page is general in nature. All medical and surgical procedures have potential benefits and risks. Consult your ophthalmologist for specific medical advice.
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