Are we blind to the effects of Macular Degeneration?
When was the last time you read about someone with bad eye health?
“Her eyes were a window to her soul… hot, red and slightly squinty as if permanently frustrated.”
It puts a whole new spin on romance literature, that’s for sure. The eyes are so important to anyone’s identity. They feature prominently in so many sayings about wisdom, beauty, honesty and even strength. So why does hardly anyone look after them until they start going wrong?
Macular Degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in New Zealand (to you and I, that’s going blind with old age). I can hear you saying now, ‘that’s old people - not me’, but therein lies the problem- macular degeneration can start at any point.
In New Zealand, one in seven people over 50 have a form of Macular Degeneration. This is expected to increase by 70% by 2030.
The worst thing is that it could make you go blind in just two years if left untreated. Imagine one day you witness the birth of your grandchild and two years later you still imagine them as that tiny new-born. You wouldn’t know any different!
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 computer screen using your macula.
Macular Degeneration causes progressive macular damage resulting in loss of central vision but the peripheral vision is not affected. So basically, if you eliminate everything you see directly in front of you right now, that’s a fair description of the eyesight of someone with severe macular degeneration.
Eye exams should be just as frequent as doctor and dentist visits once you hit your 18th birthday.
It’s not a case of:
“Happy 18th, here’s an appointment card at the optometrist. It’s all downhill from here buddy.”
It’s more like prevention is better than any cure. If caught early, your optometrist can treat and prevent any further degeneration.
Eye exams aren’t expensive, they’re not painful and shouldn’t take up any more than an hour of your time.