MD is the leading cause of severe vision loss. One in seven people over the age of 50 years is affected in some way and the incidence increases with age. One in four people over the age of 80 have some vision loss.

What is Macular Degeneration (MD)?

The macula is the central part of the retina, the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. The retina processes all visual images. It is responsible for your ability to read, recognise faces, drive and see colours clearly. You are reading this using your macula. Macular Degeneration (MD) causes progressive loss of central vision but peripheral vision is not affected.

What are the types of MD?

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There are two types of MD - dry and wet. Dry MD results in a gradual loss of central vision. Wet MD is characterised by a sudden loss of vision caused by abnormal blood vessels growing under the retina. Immediate medical treatment of wet MD is essential if symptoms occur.

What are the risk factors?

Aside from increasing age over 50 years, MD is thought to be caused by genetic and environmental factors.

If you smoke or have a family history of MD, your risk of developing the disease is much greater.

Other risk factors include diet and lifestyle.

How can you tell if you have MD?

Symptoms may include one or more of the following:

Distortion, where straight lines appear wavy or bent

Difficulty reading or other activities that require fine vision

Distinguishing faces becomes a problem

Dark patches or empty spaces appear in the centre of
your vision

Poor night vision

Decreased colour sensitivity

Macular Degeneration Eye health checklist

Have your eyes tested and make sure the macula is checked

Don't smoke

Keep a healthy lifestyle, control your weight and exercise regularly

Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. Limit your intake of fats, eat fish two or three times a week, eat dark green leafy vegetables and fresh fruit daily and a handful of nuts a week

Provide adequate protection for your eyes from sunlight exposure, especially when young

Amsler grid

The Amsler grid may be used to detect distortion in vision where straight lines appear wavy or bent and to see if there
are dark spaces or empty patches in the vision.

Go to http://mdnz.org.nz for an amsler grid and further information on Macula Degeneration.