Millions of Australians and people worldwide are affected by common eye conditions such as macular degeneration, glaucoma and cataract. Different eye conditions may affect your vision in different ways. For example, daily activities such as reading would be severely impacted in eye conditions such as macular degeneration where your central vision is affected. Conditions such as glaucoma reduce your peripheral vision when it is at an advanced stage while cataract would generally cause blurred vision, glare, and reduced night vision. This would affect your daily activities such as reading and driving in a significant way.
It is estimated that 1.29 million Australians currently live with macular degeneration and a staggering 8 million Australians are at risk of developing this sight-threatening condition. Macular degeneration, also known as age-related macular degeneration, is responsible for 50% of legal blindness cases in Australia. There are two types of macular degeneration commonly referred to as “wet” or “dry”, but in more recent times macular degeneration has been classified based on stages: “early”, “intermediate” or “late” according to the clinical signs present.
The expertise from our ophthalmologists and availability of the state-of-the-art diagnostic imaging technology such as high-resolution optical coherence tomography (OCT) and optical coherence tomography angiography (OCTA) are extremely important in helping our patients detect early changes in macular degeneration, leading to prompt diagnosis and effective treatment.
What are the risk factors of macular degeneration?
Current treatments of macular degeneration including anti-VEGF injections with Eylea, Lucentis, and Avastin are highly effective in preserving vision for the wet, intermediate or late type of macular degeneration where there is leakage of fluid in the retina.
The doctors at City Eye Centre are highly experienced at providing the most up-to-date treatments for macular degeneration. Dr Lawrence Lee, our retinal specialist, is at the forefront in the management of medical retina diseases and his expertise helps save sight in many patients with macular degeneration. City Eye Centre is also involved in clinical research trials for new macular degeneration treatments.
Once macular degeneration has stabilized, anti-VEGF treatment is likely to be extended such that you would only require treatment at longer time intervals. Our eye doctors will manage your macular degeneration through comprehensive monitoring and follow-ups. To read more about the current treatments on macular degeneration, please click here.
What are the risk factors of macular degeneration?
Risk factors of macular degeneration include age, family history, diet and smoking. Stopping smoking is one modifiable factor to significantly reduce the risk of developing macular degeneration.
- Age: People over the age of 50 are at risk of developing macular degeneration. It is estimated that there is a 3x higher risk of developing macular degeneration in those who are over 75 years of age. Early detection of macular degeneration through regular comprehensive eye examination and OCT scanning is crucial.
- Smoking: People who smoke have a 6x increased risk of developing macular degeneration and they also develop the condition 5-10 years earlier than non-smokers. Once macular degeneration is diagnosed and being treated, it has been observed that smoking is linked to poorer outcomes with anti-VEGF treatments. Stopping smoking is the single most powerful modifiable risk factor to reduce the risks of developing macular degeneration.
- Family history: 50% of macular degeneration risk profile is attributed to the person’s genetic makeup, suggesting that people with a family history of macular degeneration have a 50% chance of developing the disease. There are now over 35 genes linked to the development of macular degeneration and at least 70% of cases of macular degeneration have a genetic link.
- Nutrition: Nutrition plays an important role in optimising general wellbeing and eye health. The type of diet consumed has been associated with risks of developing macular degeneration. Diets containing processed foods with high amounts of saturated fats, trans fats and omega-6 fatty acid have been linked with an increased risk of developing macular degeneration. A ‘Mediterranean’ diet rich in dark green leafy vegetables, fresh fruits, nuts and oily fish is thought to be beneficial in reducing the relative risk of developing the condition. Dietary supplements with high anti-oxidants in some long-term clinical studies have shown a reduced rate of progression of macular degeneration. To read more about macular degeneration, please click here.
Cataracts are one of the leading causes of reduced, distorted vision and glare. More than 90% of people develop cataracts by the age of 65. Cataracts develop gradually over time and this means that symptoms from cataracts may not be noticed initially. Patients with a history of diabetes, smoking, prolonged UV exposure, blunt trauma and previous eye surgeries may develop cataracts earlier and also at a faster rate. To learn more about the condition, please click here.
What should you consider if you require cataract surgery?
When considering cataract surgery, our eye surgeons will perform a comprehensive eye examination, advise the extent of how your cataract has impacted your vision, and discuss in depth the risks and benefits of cataract surgery with you, as well as the post-operative care. Our eye specialists will also talk to you about your occupation, daily tasks and activities that you enjoy doing to identify ways in which you use vision and this will help the doctors determine and tailor the best treatment and intraocular lens options to meet the demands of your visual needs.
The following questions may help you get started on thinking what your vision requirements are:
- What do you for a living? Can you see to safely do your job?
- Do you like to read? Do you have problems reading in print?
- Do you have problems watching television?
- Do you have trouble seeing computer screens or Ipads?
- Is it difficult to cook, shop, take medications, or do gardening?
- Do you drive at night??
- Do you spend time in dimly lit environments?
- Does your vision affect your level of independence?
Other questions to consider include:
- Have you been diagnosed with astigmatism or amblyopia?
- Would you like to enhance your vision at certain distances for daily tasks or hobbies?
- Which eye do you prefer for distance viewing / reading or both?
Your visual requirements play a key role in selecting the type of intraocular lens for your cataract surgery. Our eye specialist will select the most suitable lens designed to meet your unique visual conditions and lifestyle. Talk to our eye specialists about benefits and risks prior the considering the surgery. For more information on cataract surgery, please click here.
Glaucoma is an eye condition where progressive degeneration of the optic nerve results in gradual visual loss and is usually the result of raised eye pressure. It is estimated that 300,000 Australians currently live with glaucoma; 1 in 50 Australians will develop glaucoma during their lifetime and 1 in 8 Australians aged over 80 years will develop glaucoma.
Many people affected by glaucoma may not be aware of any vision loss as there are generally no symptoms in the early stages of glaucoma. The number of glaucoma patients is likely to be much higher than what is reported due to the lack of symptoms or an awareness of any vision problem. It is estimated that as high as 50% of people with glaucoma remain undetected. The loss of vision in glaucoma is usually gradual and a considerable amount of peripheral (side) vision may be lost without prompt diagnosis and treatment. Early detection and regular monitoring therefore is essential. It is also important to remember that while glaucoma is more common as we get older, glaucoma can occur at any age. People with a family history of glaucoma (first degree relatives) can have up to a 10-fold increased risk of developing the disease.
How is glaucoma treated?
Depending on the severity and stage of glaucoma, our ophthalmologists will discuss with you the risks and benefits of the treatment options available. Our eye specialists will also advise you of the most appropriate treatment to stabilize the condition and prevent further progression of the disease.
Current glaucoma treatments include:
- Medical treatment: Eye drops and the preservative free options
- Laser treatment: Laser Peripheral Iridotomy, Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty, Cyclodiode Laser
- Surgical treatment: Micro-bypass Glaucoma Surgery (MBGS), Trabeculectomy, Glaucoma Drainage Implant Surgery
Quick links on other eye conditions you may be interested in further reading: