'Painless' injection can save sight

FOCUSED: Retired photographer Margaret Bake is keeping her eye problems in check.
FOCUSED: Retired photographer Margaret Bake is keeping her eye problems in check.

Plagued by eye problems for the past 25 years, retired New Plymouth photographer Margaret Bake urges people to get their eyes checked.

Bake suffers from Macular Degeneration (MD), a chronic eye disease that is the leading cause of blindness in New Zealand.

MD affects the central vision, making straight lines look bent and everything look a bit distorted.

This impacts on a person's ability to drive, read, watch television, undertake hobbies requiring fine work, access websites and even recognise faces.

A free seminar in New Plymouth on Saturday will provide information on the disease and how it can be treated.

There is a way of slowing MD - an injection in the eye, Bake said.

"I want to emphasise people must not be afraid of the treatment. It is done in such a way it is totally painless."

She agrees it sounds "absolutely horrific", but reckons it doesn't hurt a bit. "In fact anybody who is having this test will tell you, you do not suffer any discomfort from it whatsoever."

Because of previous problems with her eyes, she has to have treatment every three or four months, but most people have it every six months, she said.

One in seven people over the age of 50 has MD and the number will increase by 70 per cent in the next 15 years.

New Plymouth ophthalmologist Dr Kevin Taylor said MD was a distortion in the vision.

Lines start looking higgledy-piggledy. A doorway will seem to have a kink in it and straight lines will look bent, he said.

If it is caught early enough and there is no long-standing damage to the retina, the person can retain good vision.

The Amsler Grid eye tests for MD are free on the internet and will be available at Saturday's seminar, which will be held in the ballroom of the Quality Hotel Plymouth International from 10am-11.30am.

To register to attend phone 0800 MACULA (622 852) or email info@mdnz.org.nz

Taranaki Daily News