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What is Macular Degeneration?

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 (MD) causes progressive macular damage resulting in loss of central vision but the peripheral vision is not affected.

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What are the types of Macular Degeneration?

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

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What are the risk factors?

MD is thought to be caused by genetic and environmental factors. People over the age of 50 are particularly at risk.

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 factors.

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How can you tell if you have Macular Degeneration?

Symptoms may include one or more of the following:

  • Distortion, where straight lines appear wavy or bent.
  • Difficulty in 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

You may also find you need more lighting and are sensitive to glare. Poor night vision and decreased colour sensitivity may also be an issue.

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How common is Macular Degeneration?

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.

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Getting tested is simple

There’s a quick and easy way to tell if your vision is affected by MD. Click on the link below to see if you have the common warning signs.

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What you need to know

                       
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What's the chance?

In New Zealand MD is estimated to affect 1 in 7 people over 50 in some way

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Smoking

Smokers have 3 times the risk of developing MD and tend to develop MD a decade earlier

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Is it getting worse?

It is estimated the number of people with MD will increase by 70% by 2030

                       
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More common than you think

Age related Macular Degeneration is the most common cause of blindness

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You need to know!

Of those most at risk (50+) 47% have not heard of Macular Degeneration.

People with a family history of MD have a 50% chance of developing the disease.

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What if I don't have treatment?

Untreated, the majority of people with wet MD become functionally blind within 2 years

                       

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