Age Related Macular Degeneration (ARMD), is the leading cause of blindness in people over the age of 50. I don’t know why they choose to call it age-related. Quite frankly I don’t feel that 50 is aged!
Your 50’s are a time in life when the kids are usually becoming independent and you can start travelling, and doing things without having to stress about them.
Our family history of macular degeneration...
My name is Nicole Kokkinakis. My story with Macular Degeneration starts with my grandmother, who was diagnosed at a time when treatment was not available. Sadly she lost her sight in her early 80’s. She was a woman who had previously spent her time cooking, embroidering and doing fine needle work, things she could no longer do. Over time, she developed dementia and passed away at 94 years of age. This was the first time we had come across ARMD in our family.
My mother was recently diagnosed with ARMD at a much younger age than my grandmother. Not long after, her older brother was also diagnosed, and they are both undergoing treatment, to help slow the progression of the disease.
On a recent visit to New York, I caught up with a cousin I had not seen for a number of years. We got to talking about our parents and discovered that my uncle also has ARMD and is having treatment. Clearly, there is a very strong familial link here!
So, what does that mean for me and my children? I know there is a good chance I will develop this condition with my strong family history, so I have regular eye checks and I have started implementing every preventative measure I can.
PREVENTION is key!
PREVENTION saves heartache and distress!
PREVENTION preserves our lifestyle!
Prevention is not always possible, but has been shown to be improved by
- Regular eye tests; these lead to early detection (see below).
- Healthy eating;clinical studies show that eating green leafy vegetables and coloured fruit and vegetables is protective against macular degeneration. Check out the Macular Degeneration Foundation's cookbook - Eating For Eye Health.
- Not smoking; macular degeneration is another disease linked to smoking.
- Regular exercise; obesity and heart disease are linked to macular disease, so there's another reason to stay healthy.
- Taking supplements (where appropriate); your optometrist will be able to advise you on these. Macular supplements usually contain antioxidants, micro-nutrients (vitamins and Zinc) and omega 3s.
Macular Degeneration Awareness Week - May 22-28
EARLY DETECTION is also vitally important. 1 in 7 people over 50 have some evidence of macular degeneration, which is a very alarming statistic considering the rapidly aging Australian population. Awareness of the disease is rising, with nearly 90% of Australians now aware that they should have their eyes tested regularly to check their macula.
Early detection and referral is crucial to saving sight,as the latest treatments for ARMD work on active disease to prevent further damage. ARMD is a chronic disease so I urge you to make regular (2 yearly) comprehensive eye tests a part of your normal health routine. We all visit the dentist regularly so we do not lose our teeth, but what about our sight?
If you or a member of your family have not had an eye test recently, schedule one now. If you or someone you know has a family history of macular degeneration and have not had an eye test in the past two years, make an appointment today.
My sight is precious. What about yours?