Have you checked your macular?

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Macular degeneration is a serious eye disease. 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. Yeh, not cool. 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. Great Scott! 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.* Yikes! 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 opthalmologist can properly diagnose macular degeneration.

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 a freebie. Nice!

Some of the telltale signs are visual distortion, fuzziness and then complete loss of central vision. For treatment, your optometrist will refer you to an eye specialist called an ophthalmologist.

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 (benefit amount depends on your level of cover). Give us a buzz on 1800 808 690 or log in to Online Member Services to check your benefits and limits. You can book an appointment by giving Peoplecare Eyes & Teeth a buzz on 1300 547 778 or book an appointment online (just remember to select ‘Optometry’ from the drop-down menu).

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 Premium Hospital cover

*according to the Macular Disease Foundation Australia

References:

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