Age Gays

Articles: Medical

John Goosen is an Executive Committee Member of MAG. John recently addressed a meeting regarding Macular Degeneration. A disease he has, as does our Secretary’s Father.

From the brochures he obtained from the Macular Degeneration Foundation, and distributed at the Meeting, the following information is provided:

What is this MD, or commonly known AMD – Age-related Macular Degeneration?

The macula is the central part of the retina, the light sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. It is responsible for your ability to read, recognise faces, drive and see colours clearly. You are reading this information using your macula.

MD causes progressive macula damage resulting in loss of central vision. This loss of vision may be severe. Fortunately the side vision is not significantly affected.

What are the types of MD?

There are 2 types of MD:-

  • The Dry form results in a gradual loss of central vision.
  • The Wet form is caused by abnormal blood vessels growing into the retina. Sudden loss of vision is characteristic and vision loss may be severe. Up to 75% of people with untreated wet MD end up legally blind within 2 years.

What treatments are available?

MD is a progressive disease. Treatment options are dependant on the stage and type of the disease. Current treatments aim to persevere as much vision as possible and halt or slow its progression. There is presently no cure for MD.

What are the risk factors?

MD is thought to be caused by a combination of genetic and environment factors. People over the age of 50 are at risk. If you smoke or have a family history of MD, your risk of developing the disease much greater.

What can you do to reduce your risk?

  • Have your eyes checked regularly for MD.
  • Don’t smoke
  • Eat fish and nuts at least twice a week.
  • Limit your intake of fats.
  • Eat a diet rich in brightly coloured fruit and vegetables [especially spinach]
  • In consultation with your doctor, consider taking an antioxidant and zinc supplement. Also consider taking as lutein supplement.
  • Exercise regularly, and control weight and blood pressure.
  • Provide adequate protection for your eyes from sunlight exposure, particularly when young.

Early detection is important.

The early detection of any form of MD is crucial because any vision lost cannot be regained. Symptoms should not be dismissed as part of just ‘getting older’. As with most health matter, the earlier you seek treatment, the more likely you are to have a better outcome compared to those who wait.

MD can be detected in its very early stages before any visual symptoms occur. Detecting changes early allows you to take steps to slow down the progression of MD.

The Macular Degeneration Foundation is at Suite 1407, 477 Kent Street, Sydney 2000.
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