It is often assumed that seeing poorly is a part of getting older, but for the majority of people, this is simply not true, says ophthalmologist Dr Jenny Ip.
Vision is such a vital part of our everyday lives,” she said. “When it comes to eye health, the key is early detection. This means regular visits to an eye health professional, even when there are no visual symptoms. Some sight threatening conditions may not affect vision until advance stages.”
According to the National Eye Health Survey of 2016, in the majority of cases – as high as 90 per cent, visual impairment and blindness is preventable.
“For those of us who have known health conditions, particularly diabetes, or a family history such as age related macular degeneration, early and regular review is essential,” Dr Ip said.
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There are many conditions early detection can pick up before they become a major problem.
The main conditions affecting older Australians are cataract, age related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and refractive error.
“These conditions are largely treatable, and when detected and treated early, it is possible to maintain good vision,” Dr Ip said.
Dr Ip offered the following suggestions to maintain eye and overall health.
“In general, maintaining a healthy balanced diet, exercise and not smoking are beneficial for the eye,” she said.
“Smoking triples the risk of developing macular degeneration. A diet rich in green leafy vegetables, and that includes fish two to three times a week is helpful for reducing the risk for macular degeneration.
“For those with known health conditions particularly diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol, working with your doctor to optimise control is very important.”
It requires a team of health professionals working together to ensure that Australians maintain good vision long term.
This includes the family practitioner, optometrist, ophthalmologist and other specialists.
Speaking with your healthcare professional about any concerns will be important for addressing specific and individual needs.
“Fortunately, in Australia we also have a good network of support groups including Macular Diseases Foundation, Vision Australia, Diabetes Australia, Glaucoma Australia,” Dr Ip said.
These organisations provide detailed, up-to-date and practical information.
Dr Ip is an ophthalmologist with a sub-specialty in medical retina, which covers macular degeneration and diabetes issues, at Southern Ophthalmology.
For more details see www.southernophthalmology.com.au or phone the Wollongong office on 4229 9772.