Tests a critical step to treatment for vision loss

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Bupa says Australians should book regular tests to protect the health of their eyes with a new survey revealing eyesight is the most valued sense.

In the survey commissioned by Macular Disease Foundation Australia (MDFA), Australians rated going blind (45 per cent) as their top concern ahead of losing memory (40 per cent), losing a limb or mobility (17 per cent), hearing (6 per cent) and speech (2 per cent).

Approximately 1.7 million Australians exhibit some evidence of macular disease such as blurred vision or sensitivity to light, with the majority of those people aged over 50.

Yet only 18 per cent of all respondents understood treatment options are available for conditions like macular degeneration.

“Eye injections have changed the outlook for Australia’s macular disease community – but this lack of awareness is alarming,” said MDFA CEO Dee Hopkins.

“Regular eye exams can pick up the early signs of AMD and allow you to begin treatment as soon as you need it. Understanding that therapies are available is critical because early diagnosis and starting treatment immediately gives you the best chance of saving your sight.”

Bupa Optical Optometrist Karen Makin said early detection is the key to protecting your eyes against macular diseases that are the leading cause of blindness and severe vision loss in Australia.

“We recommend people book in regular eye tests, every two years but more often if your family has a history of eye disease, you are diabetic, or you are over 65.

“While eye tests are vital for detecting eye issues such as macular disease, they are also an important tool for identifying general health issues. This is because the eye is the only place in the body where one can get a direct non-invasive view of a persons’ blood vessels which can tell a broad story about an individual’s current and future health risks,” she said.

“The biggest problem about macular disease is that you can be living with early signs of the disease without knowing it, but when symptoms begin to appear they can quickly develop into difficulty reading, issues with distinguishing faces, dark vision patches and distorted vision.

“Just like a successful marriage, eye tests are there for both good times and bad, so don’t put one off because you think you have perfect vision… prevention is truly the best medicine when it comes to the health of your eyes,” added Ms Makin.