Quick facts about Macular Degeneration
Responsible for 50% of cases of blindness in Australia
The country’s leading cause of legal blindness
Most common cause of blindness in older Australians
Understanding Macular Degeneration
Macular Degeneration is the most common cause of vision impairment in older Australians and the leading cause of legal blindness in the country. The condition causes the gradual deterioration of the macula, which is a small area at the centre of the retina.
The macula is responsible for the fine detail vision we need for activities like driving, reading and recognising colours. Macular Degeneration typically affects people aged over 50, but it is not a normal consequence of ageing. In some cases, the disease can also affect younger people.
Effects of Macular Degeneration
Macular Degeneration results in the blurring of a person’s central field of vision, which impacts both near and distance vision. Typically peripheral vision remains, though the condition can lead to partial loss of sight or blind spots in the central vision.
The effects of Macular Degeneration may include:
- Straight lines appearing distorted or curved
- Difficulty distinguishing people’s faces
- Trouble determining colour contrast
- Not being able to see traffic lights changing colour
- Problems seeing the edge of steps if there is no colour contrast
People with Macular Degeneration may still be able to move around safely with minimal difficulty, or even be able to pick out items using their peripheral vision.
“I have Macular Degeneration in both eyes and all I can see is some blurring in my right. My main challenge is doing little things like mowing the lawn, but Guide Dogs are great because they understand what I’m going through.”
Who is at risk?
There is a higher risk of developing Macular Degeneration if you are aged over 75 years old, are a smoker or have a family history of the condition.
Experiencing difficulty with your vision should never be ignored, no matter how old you are. The earlier the disease is detected, the more likely it is that sight can be saved through preventative management options designed to maintain your vision for as long as possible.
You can help to reduce your risk of Macular Degeneration by following a healthy lifestyle and having your eyes tested regularly.
Guide Dogs Queensland’s services are a vital part of our local eye care network, helping to ensure vision impaired patients receive the best medical care and the latest rehabilitation expertise and technology.