Even though she’s only in her 20s, Jessica Falon knows the family risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and is already taking steps to try to prevent the macular disease that has blinded her grandmother.
People with a direct family history of age-related macular degeneration have a 50 per cent chance of developing the disease.
AMD primarily affects people over the age of 50 and the incidence increases with age. A major risk factor is family history.
Family risk for age-related macular degeneration
Jessica’s grandmother Helen has wet AMD, which was “really quite advanced” by the time she saw a specialist.
“If you know AMD is something in your family, have a conversation about it. I have seen just how much AMD impacts Nana and the changes I have made to my diet and lifestyle are so easy,” Jessica says.
“I can’t guarantee that making those changes will stop me from getting AMD, but I can support the health of my macula. I can check my macula regularly and monitor my vision as I get older. If I can better my chances in any way, it’s got to be a big win.”
At least 70 per cent of AMD cases have a genetic link, so it’s critical that people living with the disease inform their siblings and children that they have been diagnosed.
That way, family members at risk of developing AMD can be as alert as Jessica is.
“I understand the hereditary aspect of the disease and so even though the prospect of macular disease seems in the distant future, my sister and I have talked about our vision,” Jessica says.
“We have an Amsler grid on the fridge, and we are incorporating macula-friendly foods into our meals. And, of course, I’ll continue to check my macula, particularly as I get older.
Check My Macula
For more information about AMD and other macular diseases, please contact Macular Disease Foundation Australia. MDFA operates a free National Helpline (1800 111 709) to provide information and support to members of the macular disease community, their families and carers.
Are you at risk of AMD? Get started by taking the quiz to learn what to do. Go to Check My Macula at www.CheckMyMacula.com.au and in under a minute, you’ll know your risk factors.
You can also download or order our free age-related macular degeneration booklet.