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Planning Retirement Online

Eye time for a check!

                                         May 2010  


Eye time for a check!

Eye testIf you are over 50, you have reached the age where the risk of Age-related Macular Degeneration becomes real.

This devastating eye disease is diagnosed in 300 people every week – and it is most likely to affect people our age. Already it is estimated that around 500,000 people in the UK have Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD).

While it is not painful, and doesn’t necessarily lead to total blindness, AMD can cause such serious problems with peripheral vision that it can make it very difficult for sufferers to lead a normal life. Everyday tasks such as reading‚ watching television‚ driving and recognising familiar faces can all become very difficult; living with AMD can lead to a loss of independence and an increased likelihood of depression.

A big problem is that many people believe some sort of deterioration in their vision is to be expected as we age, and many people simply do not seek professional help early enough. AMD can be treated if you catch it early.

The importance of eye checks is that AMD can be detected by optometrists before the symptoms become obvious. In the early stages, your central vision may become blurred or distorted, straight lines may appear wavy or fuzzy, and objects can take on an unusual size or shape. You can be sensitive to light or sometimes colours begin to fade so that the world around you begins to look like an old photograph. In advanced AMD, you might notice a blank patch or a dark spot in the centre of your vision making reading and writing very difficult.

The macula is a small area at the very centre of the retina in our eyes and is responsible for what we see straight in front of us. It plays a vital role in sight. Macular degeneration is caused when the delicate cells of the macula become damaged and stop working.

There are actually two types of macular degeneration, usually known as wet and dry AMD. Wet AMD results in new blood vessels growing behind the retina leading to bleeding and scarring; but the macular degeneration we are talking about here is the far more common dry AMD.

Usually AMD affects both eyes, although one may be affected long before the other.

The exact cause of AMD is still not known, but there are several risk factors which have been confirmed. These include age of course, once we get to 50 and beyond we are far more likely to suffer from AMD. Woman are also more likely to have the problem. Smoking and poor nutrition is also thought to affect the eyes.

AMD is difficult to prevent although recent research suggests some vitamins and minerals can help protect the eyes.

However, the trick is to catch it early and this is why everyone should have an eye test at least every two years. This will not only check your vision but will also check your eye for diseases including AMD. Eye tests are free for anyone over 60, and also some people over 50 are entitled to free sight tests, for instance if you are a diabetic.


This not a substitute for regular eye checks, but it is interesting to do nevertheless and can help reveal signs of Age-related Macular Degeneration.

Visit the site below, print off the grid and follow the directions. But far more important, if you haven’t had an eye check for a while, make an appointment now.



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