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Public Health Message for Choosing Wisely

DO I REALLY NEED A SUPPLEMENT FOR MY MACULA?

eye
Macular degeneration is the commonest cause of significant vision loss in Australia. Being diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) can be life altering. Patients often ask if there is anything they can do to stop vision loss.

The good news is that there are things you can do to slow down the progression of AMD, such as changes to your diet, not smoking, and in some cases by taking certain vitamin supplements.

Released today under the Choosing Wisely campaign the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists is advising patients to talk to their eye doctors as to whether they need vitamin supplements for their macular disease.

“Patients can ‘choose wisely’ by only taking vitamin supplements if they are at risk of their macular degeneration causing significant loss of vision. Looking at a patient’s macula can determine if their macular degeneration is likely to get worse”, said Professor Stephanie Watson, chair of the Royal Australia and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists Public Health Committee.

“By talking to their eye doctor, patients will be able to understand if they need supplements. Clinical studies have not shown a benefit from supplementation at the early stages of AMD or where there is no AMD.

People with early AMD can obtain the necessary vitamins and minerals from a healthy diet that includes fruit, dark green leafy vegetables, fish and nuts. For these patients, Choosing Wisely means that they will not have the inconvenience of having to take supplements in addition to their usual medications”, said Professor Watson.

WHAT CAN I DO?

TO PREVENT, SUPPORT EARLY DETECTION OR REDUCE THE PROGRESSION OF AMD:

  • Have a comprehensive eye examination at least every two years. This should include a check of the macula.
  • Tell your eye doctor if there is a history of AMD in the family
  • Check for symptoms of AMD daily, using an Amsler grid – if you find symptoms or notice a sudden change in vision, request an urgent review by an ophthalmologist
  • Balance your diet with a daily intake of fruit and green leafy vegetables, fish two to three times per week, a handful of nuts per week, and low glycaemic index (“low GI”) carbohydrates in preference to high GI. Limit the intake of fats and oils.
  • Talk to your doctor to understand the nature of your eye condition and whether an AREDS or AREDS2 vitamin supplement would be beneficial
  • If you are a smoker, quit smoking
  • Keep your weight at a healthy level and exercise regularly.

WHERE CAN I OBTAIN FURTHER INFORMATION?

Last updated: November 29, 2018

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