Have you checked your macular?

Macular degeneration is a serious eye disease that causes half of all blindness and vision loss in Australia.* It’s progressive and degenerative, causing permanent loss of central vision. If you don’t get treatment, you can lose the ability to read, drive and even recognise faces. And it’s not just a normal part of ageing.

Seeing fairies? You might not be going loco!

People with macular degeneration have reported experiencing visual hallucinations as the brain attempts to interpret visual damage. Yet another reason to get those peepers checked every two years!

It was coined ‘Charles Bonnet Syndrome’ over 250 years ago in a time when actual bonnets were popular, although many medical professionals have still never heard of it.

Know your type

Diagnosing which type of macular degeneration you have is really important. There are two major types: rapid progressing ‘wet’ macular degeneration and the slower ‘dry’ form. Only wet macular degeneration is treatable – the earlier the better.

Am I at risk?

It’s not a normal part of ageing, but it’s often age-related. One in seven Australians over the age of 50 has macular degeneration.* Younger people can still get it though.

Other factors that put you at a higher risk

  • Smoking
  • Eating too many high Glycemic Index carbs
  • Family history of the disease

Dr Google says I’ve got it. How do I check?

Google knows many things (too many things!), but only an optometrist or ophthalmologist can properly diagnose macular degeneration.

Some of the telltale signs are:

  • visual distortion
  • fuzziness, blurred vision in spots
  • blind spots
  • complete loss of central vision as it progresses

For treatment, your optometrist will refer you to an eye specialist called an ophthalmologist.

There’s a period at the beginning where the disease is detectable before symptoms appear, so optometrists recommend you get a general check-up every two years. Kids too!

If your optometrist bulk bills, like Peoplecare Eyes & Teeth do, the screening will be free.

How do I shake it?

If you’ve got wet macular degeneration, there are a few treatments like medication, surgery and laser therapy. These are all done by your ophthalmologist. Right now, macular degeneration can’t be reversed, but it can be slowed.

What if I have the dry type?

As we said, there’s no treatment, but you’re not a powerless pawn! Keeping away from the smokes together with a healthy diet and lifestyle may help. Chat with your doctor about what you can do and get some diet advice. Also, dry macular degeneration can deteriorate into the rapid wet type, so be sure to get yourself checked out.

Keep my wallet out of this! What can I claim?

Screenings for macular degeneration are free if your optometrist bulk bills. You can claim part of the cost of subsequent retinal photography on your Extras cover under Health Screening from your Health Management benefits on all our extras covers. Check out your limits on our app or log in to Online Member Services to check your benefits and limits.

Do you live near Wollongong? You can book an appointment online at Peoplecare Eyes & Teeth.

For treatment of wet macular degeneration:

  • medications above the PBS amount are claimable on all our Extras covers (benefit amount depends on your level of cover)
  • laser surgery is claimable on High and Premium Extras
  • surgery is claimable on our Gold, Silver Plus, Silver & Bronze hospital covers

*according to the Macular Disease Foundation Australia

 

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