Home Health Warning on macular degeneration spread among older Aussies

Warning on macular degeneration spread among older Aussies

Older Australians in the 50-64 age bracket are not taking sufficient care of their eyes and could end up with macular degeneration, the Macular Disease Foundation Australia has warned.

The warning came as part of the activities to mark Macular Degeneration Awareness Week which runs till Saturday.

A statement from the Foundation pointed out that 75% of Australians in the 50-64 age group were providing care to their parents and 46% were supporting grandchildren.

With these demands on their time, only 6% were testing their eyes for disease symptoms, the statement said.

The Foundation said that about 1.25 million Australians had evidence of macular degeneration and this figure would go up to 1.7 million by 2030 if there were no prevention or treatment measures taken.

Macular Degeneration.

Figures from Age-related Macular Degeneration Across Australia: 2012-2030. Report by Macular Disease Foundation Australia and Deloitte Access Economics.

Foundation patron Ita Buttrose expressed concern that research showed the attention paid to eye health was so low.

“This at-risk group of Australians clearly is not heeding preventive health messages," she said.

"They are juggling family, possibly career and community activities, while trying not to let down those around them. However, they could be letting themselves down by not investing time in their own eye health.”

Buttrose's father and three of his siblings developed the disease and hence she is at risk.

“I make sure I look after my sight as I’ve seen firsthand with my late father how devastating living with vision loss can be, but I also know that early detection can save sight," she said.

"My Uncle Gerald is proof of this. Thanks to treatment that has maintained his sight he was still driving at 92.”

Foundation chief executive Julie Heraghty said: “This Macular Degeneration Awareness Week all Australians over 50 are reminded to have an eye test and macula check.

"Vision is critical to maintain quality of life and independence, so it is vital that those over 50 have regular eye tests as prevention, early detection and timely treatment can save sight."

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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.