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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    I have a strong family history of macular degeneration. What can I do to reduce my risk?

    Both of my parents had macular degeneration and now that I am getting closer to my 60's I know I need to take better care of my eyes, but what can I do to decrease my risk of going down the same path?
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    Dr John H. Chang

    Ophthalmologist (Eye Specialist)

    Dr John Chang is a Sydney-based ophthalmologist with specialist training in cataract surgery, medical retina and comprehensive ophthalmology. At his Strathfield practice, Dr Chang provides … View Profile

    The main non-modifiable risk factors for macular degeneration are getting older and genetic predisposition (family history of macular degeneration). There is not much that can be done about these. However, you can avoid the main “modifiable” risk factor which is smoking. Nutrition is also important and a healthy balanced diet with lots of leafy, green vegetables (eg. kale, spinach), fresh fruits, oily fish (such as salmon), and nuts provide important vitamins and anti-oxidants that help protect macula health. There are also antioxidant vitamin supplements (“AREDS formulation”) of various brand names that are suitable for certain patients with moderate to severe AMD, which has been proven in AREDS clinical trials in reducing their progression to wet macular degeneration. Not everyone needs or benefits from these vitamins, and so a proper eye examination by an eye care professional is recommended before taking such vitamins as well as ensuring that the correct dosage is taken (often the instructions on the bottle labels are incorrect!). For example, a strong family history of macular degeneration is not a valid reason on its own to start taking these supplements. There are also multiple supplements out there that have not been proven by medical research and so there is no good evidence to support their use. Anyone over the age of 50 years should have their macula checked by an eye health professional, and this even more important in those with a family history of macular degeneration.

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