May marks Macula Month, the annual campaign organised by Macular Disease Foundation Australia. This year’s campaign will highlight the social issues associated with age-related macular degeneration, diabetic eye disease, as well as other lesser known macular diseases.
Macular Disease holds a particular place in my heart. My grandmother lived in her own home, with a high degree of independence until she was 103, despite being legally blind from macular degeneration. She was fortunate to have three doting daughters nearby who invested significant time to ensure she lived comfortably and enjoyed a social life. I don’t like to imagine what her life would have been like without them.
While my grandmother never complained, it must have been very difficult for this woman, an early feminist for her time who had worked much of her life with doctors, to lose her sight and quality of life. If she’d been my age now, chances are she would never have lost her vision thanks to the increasing knowledge we have about reducing the risk factors, early diagnosis, and proactive treatment and management.
This issue we asked experts in the field to talk about the latest advances: Associate Professor Bamini Gopinath has written on diet to reduce the risk factors of age-related macular degeneration, Professor Robyn Guymer and Dr. Lauren Ayton have written on diagnostic and management technology; and Dr. Laura Downie has written about a new tool she has developed with colleagues to help you self-evaluate clinical patient care in the interest of ongoing improvement.
Another major disease of the macula is diabetic eye disease – the leading cause of blindness among working Australians
Another major disease of the macula is diabetic eye disease – the leading cause of blindness among working Australians. Around 1.2 million Australians have been diagnosed with diabetes,1 yet it is alarming to note, only 33 per cent of our total population realise the eyes can be affected by this disease.2 In her ophthalmology column, Dr. Christolyn Raj describes the visually debilitating impact of diabetic eye disease using American impressionist Mary Cassatt as an example.
Educating patients and their families at risk or living with a macular disease is challenging in a busy practice, and it’s pretty much impossible for them to soak up all the information within a consult anyway. Macular Disease Foundation Australia has a raft of publications, many published in multiple languages, that can help you to help your patients. Give them a call.