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HomeminewsAustralians Rank Loss of Sight as Leading Health Concern

Australians Rank Loss of Sight as Leading Health Concern

Almost half (47 per cent) of Australians have ranked loss of sight as their number one health concern, ahead of loss of memory (37 per cent), loss of a limb (7 per cent) and loss of hearing (4 per cent), according to a recent survey by Macular Disease Foundation Australia. The survey also found that for 88 per cent of Australians, driving would be the area of life most impacted by loss of vision.1

The survey findings also revealed that although 85 per cent of Australians over the age of 50 are aware that macular degeneration affects the eyes, alarmingly one in four still had not had their eyes tested and macula checked within the last two years. 1

Commenting on the survey findings, Macular Disease Foundation Australia Chief Executive Officer Julie Heraghty said, “Australians clearly value their sight, and while it is encouraging to see the high levels of awareness, translating this awareness into action is the most important step. Quite simply, having your eyes tested could save your sight.”

This year State Governors will act as Custodians of Vision in support of Macular Degeneration Awareness Week 2015 by having an eye test and macula check.

Macular degeneration, Australia’s leading cause of severe vision loss and blindness, affects more than 1.15 million Australians over 50 and without appropriate prevention and treatment measures, this number is set to increase to 1.7 million by 2030, given the rapidly ageing population.2 The macula is responsible for central vision and enables activities such as reading, recognising faces and driving.

The survey revealed that most Australians want to keep driving into their 80s.1

The ability to have a drivers licence and maintain independence is obviously very important to Australians

“The ability to have a drivers licence and maintain independence is obviously very important to Australians. As driving is inherently linked to good sight, we want Australians to maintain good eye health so they can keep on driving – safely,” said Ms Heraghty.

Along with having an eye test and macula check, Australians over 50 should incorporate the good eye health practices of diet and lifestyle into their everyday health routines. Eat dark green leafy vegetables, fresh fruit and fish. Consideration should be given to an appropriate supplement in consultation with a doctor. Quitting smoking is also critical, as smoking can lead to blindness.

Macular degeneration is a chronic disease requiring early detection and diagnosis, so testing is essential. Risk factors for macular degeneration include age, smoking, and those with a direct family history resulting in a higher risk of developing the disease.

This Macular Degeneration Awareness Week, the Foundation is encouraging older Australians to visit an eye care professional for an eye test and macula check, self-monitor between visits and never dismiss any changes in vision as just a part of getting older.

For further information and to order a free information kit call Macular Disease Foundation Australia on 1800 111 709 or visit www.mdfoundation.com.au

References

1. Consumer survey conducted by Galaxy Research from 27th – 29th March 2015. N = 1,100. Survey developed in conjunction with the Macular Disease Foundation Australia
2. Eyes on the future – ‘A clear outlook on age-related macular degeneration’. Report by Deloitte Access Economics & Macular Degeneration Foundation, 2011. 2014 projections are a linear projection between 2010 and 2015 estimates

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