What Support is Available for AMD patients?

Age related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is the most common cause of vision loss and blindness in Australians over 50, accounting for nearly 50% of legal blindness. That number may sound rather terrifying, but thankfully there is a lot of support out there for people with macular degeneration or looking to reduce their risk of developing AMD.

The Macular Disease Foundation of Australia

Macular Disease Foundation Australia (MDFA) is a prime source of both information and support for AMD patients. MDFA is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to reducing the incidence and impact of AMD through education, research and support services.

Support services offered by the Macular Disease Foundation include:

  • Toll-free National Helpline: 1800 111 709

By calling the Helpline, you’ll have access tailored information and support for your stage of macular disease, including advice on minimising risk for progression, disease information and accessing government support services. The Helpline is available Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm.

  • Resources

MDFA produces a number of resources with up-to-date information on disease, treatments and living well with AMD and even cookbooks for eye health. Many of the resources are available in audio form so they are still available to people with vision loss.

  • Education sessions

The MDFA also holds regular education sessions. With the current need for social distancing, the Foundation is currently hosting these educational events as webinars covering a range of subjects including AMD, diabetic eye disease, eating for eye health.

  • Newsletter

If you have been diagnosed with AMD or another macular disease, or simply wish to stay updated with the latest information and research, you can register your details with MDFA for their triannual newsletter, details of upcoming education sessions and other macular disease support resources.

People over the age of 50 can monitor their vision between eye appointments using a printed card known as an Amsler grid. The Amsler grid is a printed grid with a dot at the centre. By holding the grid at reading distance and looking at the dot with one eye at a time, people can easily check for any changes in vision. These changes may cause users to see wavy lines instead of straight, or blank or grey areas on the grid.

You can order a free Amsler grid from MDFA.

Vision Australia

Vision Australia isn’t dedicated solely to age related macular degeneration but rather to provisioning services to Australians with limited vision or legal blindness. Services offered include education on how to utilise remaining vision, employment opportunities and advice, and information on ways to maintain a normal and active life with limited vision. For more information on the services that Vision Australia can provide, they can be reached via their helpline on 1300 84 74 66 .

Using MyHealth1st to search for and book an appointment with an optometrist is the easiest and most efficient way to safeguard the health of your eyes.  

Treatments for AMD

There is currently no treatment available for early, intermediate, or late (dry) stage AMD, however, research is ongoing. Positive lifestyle and diet changes can slow the process of the disease and limit symptoms. AMD can transition to the wet form of AMD, so it’s vital that you monitor for any changes in vision and see an optometrist immediately if they occur.

Treatments for Wet AMD:

- Injections

Intravitreal eye injections are highly effective in maintaining vision for people with wet AMD. Having multiple injections in your eyes might sound terrifying, but injections are a quick and painless procedure that have huge beneficial effects on AMD. Initially most people with AMD receiving injections will be on a monthly schedule, but depending on success, this schedule can change with injections becoming less frequent.

- Laser Therapies

Laser treatment is rarely used to treat wet AMD, however, are sometimes used in addition to intravitreal eye injections.

If you’re diagnosed with AMD, we understand how frightening this can be, however it’s by no means a guarantee of losing your sight. Remember that Australia has a strong support network for people with AMD, and treatments can slow and relieve symptoms. When caught early, macular degeneration can be controlled and any changes to vision can be limited, so having regular eye and macular tests is vital to keeping your eyes healthy. 

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