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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Is macular degeneration preventable with increasing age?

  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • Rowan has over ten years experience as an optometrist and since graduation from Melbourne University has worked throughout Australia and in the UK, in all … View Profile

    Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a progressive eye condition which can lead to loss of central vision and is the leading form of blindness in the western world. Currently, only a small proportion of people with AMD are able to receive treatment.

    Now, a clinical research study at the Centre for Eye Research Australia (CERA) is trialling a new laser treatment with the aim of slowing or partially reversing the progression of AMD. Volunteers are being recruited for the LEAD (Laser Intervention for Early Age-Related Macular Degeneration) Study which is aimed at providing an early intervention for AMD. The study is a world-first randomised control trial of nanosecond laser in the treatment of early AMD. It is only for those with the earliest stages of the disease and cannot bring back vision once lost, nor is it able to help if treatments for the ‘wet’ form of AMD have already commenced.

    Participants will be required to attend the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital in Melbourne. Several visits will be required over 36 months. They will undergo several safe and painless tests that include the measure of retinal function through macular perimetry and electroretinography, and novel imaging modalities under the direction of Professor Robyn Guymer. All tests are conducted by very experienced CERA clinical research staff.

    If you have a family history of AMD or have been advised that you have early signs of AMD and are interested in participating in the study, see your optometrist for a comprehensive eye test as a first screening for suitability.

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    Retina Australia (Queensland) provides peer support, information, awareness and advocacy to people with degenerating sight due to a retinal eye disease. Some examples of retinal … View Profile

    Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a progressive condition causing damage to central vision.  It can cause blurred, distorted or blank areas in the central vision, making it more difficult to distinguish fine detail when reading and facial features.  Good side/peripheral vision is maintained.

    The biggest risk factor for AMD is advancing age.  However, other risk factors have been identified, including family history, smoking, ultra-violet light exposure and a poor diet.

    At present, there is no definitive way of absolutely preventing AMD with increasing age.  However, by adopting some lifestyle choices, you may be able to delay the onset and/or reduce the severity of AMD.

    To maintain macular health, a healthy diet, rich in vitamins and anti-oxidants is recommended.  In particular, the anti-oxidant vitamins (A, C and E), fish oil, zinc, lutein, selenium and zeaxanthin are important for macular function.  For someone with AMD and anyone wanting to maintain good macular health, a daily supplement containing the above vitamins and minerals is recommended.

    Also, just as important as nutritional advice, is the recommendation not to smoke and the recommendation to wear UV protectant sunglasses whenever outdoors.

    There is a simple chart available to check and monitor your central vision in each eye.  This is known as an Amsler grid and can be obtained from your optometrist.  It is more sensitive at picking up visual damage from macular disease than your own observations in day-to-day life.

    There are two types of AMD - dry and wet.  The dry type is more slowly progressive and there is currently no treatment for it.  The wet type causes a more profound loss of central vision, which can occur suddenly.  There is bleeding of small blood vessels and or tissue swelling in wet AMD.  If detected early, there are ophthalmologist procedures to treat this, including injections into the eye and/or laser treatment.  These procedures may halt or slow down the progression of wet AMD.   Dry macular degeneration may progress to become wet macular degeneration, so it is always best to have your eyes regularly examined by an optometrist or ophthalmologist. 

    • This is the advice from Retina Australia based on broadly available research.  Every case of macular degeneration is individual and it is always recommended to seek the advice of your optometrist and / or ophthalmologist.

      For further information, or to contact Retina Australia (Qld) go to the website at www.retinaqld.org.au  or the national organisation at www.retinaaustralia.com.au Reply to this post  |  Report

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