Macular sight loss 'can be delayed'

00:00, Jul 04 2014

The rapid loss of sight due to a common eye condition can be significantly delayed, a Palmerston North eye specialist says.

Macular degeneration can cause the complete loss of central vision and takes the form of a fast-moving wet type or slow-moving dry type.

Dr John Ah-Chan, who works at Palmerston North and Crest hospitals, said macular degeneration was on the rise in Palmerston North.

He said those diagnosed with wet macular degeneration faced the most risk.

"You can lose your vision within days to weeks or months."

But he said such immediate loss could be slowed down.


"There is a treatment for the wet type now to convert it back to dry."

Ah-Chan said it could not be guaranteed this would give some sufferers the ability to complete simple tasks such as driving but some had shown improvement.

"They can't drive and then I've brought them back to the standard of driving," he said.

Macular Degeneration New Zealand (MDNZ) will hold a seminar on the condition in Palmerston North on July 12.

MDNZ general manager Phillippa Pitcher said there was not enough awareness of the condition.

She said this was proven by a recent poll conducted by MDNZ which showed many New Zealanders most likely to be affected were not familiar with the condition.

"There's only 67 per cent of New Zealanders over the age of 50 in that poll who have heard of macular degeneration," Pitcher said.

She said lack of awareness needed to be addressed.

"We will help save sight because the earlier they detect it they'll know something's to be done about it," she said.

Pitcher said the MDNZ seminar would inform people about the treatment of macular degeneration and the different forms the condition could take. The seminar will be held at the Copthorne Hotel at 10am.

Manawatu Standard