Philip Walsh - Macular Degeneration Explained

Publish Date
Friday, 18 August 2017, 2:46PM
Photo: Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

By Philip Walsh

Macular degeneration causes progressive macula damage resulting in loss of central vision and is the most common cause of blindness in New Zealand.

One in seven New Zealanders over the age of 50 could be affected by macular degeneration. A simple eye exam is key to detecting changes in the macula, but with research revealing almost half of New Zealander’s (46 per cent) have never heard of the condition1, many are putting themselves at risk of irreversible blindness.

Important factors to consider when looking after your eye health include knowing your family’s medical history, eating a healthy and well-balanced diet, regular exercise, and protecting eyes from direct sunlight and UV rays by wearing sunglasses with polarised lenses.

People most at risk are those aged over 50, who smoke and who also have a direct family history of macular degeneration. Smoking, which is the most controllable risk factor for macular degeneration, causes free radical cellular damage to the eye while decreasing antioxidant levels. Smokers are three times more likely to develop the condition than non-smokers.

Macular degeneration affects the centre of your sight and can result in blind spots, blurred or distorted vision and eventual blindness. This disease can go unnoticed for some time, but symptoms include the inability to see fine details, difficulty driving and difficulty recognising people’s faces.

It’s very important to have an eye exam every two years as macular degeneration does not always have obvious warning signs. A regular eye check only takes around 30 minutes but could be critical in protecting your long term sight.

For more information on macular degeneration and to book in an eye exam, visit:

About Philip 

Philip is an experienced optometrist with a Bachelor of Optometry from Auckland University. He’s worked in the UK, Zimbabwe and is now the Optometrist Director at the Specsavers New Lynn store in Auckland, one of 52 Specsavers stores across the country. 

Improving access for all Kiwis to high-quality eye care and eyewear is Philip’s passion. What he loves about his role at Specsavers is providing all his patients with excellent customer service and professional eye care with the latest technology and knowledgeable well-trained staff.

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