Aussies in Their 50s Ignoring Increasing Signs of Blindness

Aussies in Their 50s Ignoring Increasing Signs of Blindness
While lockdowns across the country slowed the spread of COVID, it more than doubled the amount of time Australians spent with their eyes glued to the small screen.(Illustration - Image Point Fr/Shutterstock)
Jessie Zhang

A survey has found that one in seven Australians in their 50s are experiencing early signs of age-related macular degeneration—the leading cause of preventable vision impairment in Australia—but may not know it until it's too late.

More than 80 percent of the 623 people surveyed in February knew they should have an eye examination at least every two years, Macular Disease Foundation (MDFA) chief Dee Hopkins said about the Galaxy Poll they commissioned on Oct. 27.

"Even though they know this, almost 40 per cent gamble with their sight by skipping out on these exams.

"People in their 50s are part of the ‘sandwich’ generation. They're often juggling the needs of kids and elderly parents. It's also the age when a lot of other health tests are required. Unfortunately, eye exams often get pushed to last on the list when people are time-poor," Hopkins said.

The Australian government also urged that "it’s important to get regular eye tests. Around 90 percent of all blindness and vision impairment in Australia is preventable or treatable if detected early."
The impact of macular disease is set to increase, due to Australia’s ageing population, according to Optometry Australia, with more than 1.7 million Australians currently estimated to have some evidence of the condition.

MDFA rolled out a campaign on Tuesday for Check My Macula (, a short online quiz that reveals one's risk factors with five easy questions in less than a minute, then helps one book an exam with their optometrist.

Watch the commercial here:

Popular Australian comedian, Shane Jacobson, who is currently fronting the MDFA macular campaign believes that many Australian men forget about these issues.

“Many Aussie blokes have a ‘you’ll be right’ attitude towards their health, and they tend to bury their heads in the sand when it comes to routine check-ups like an eye exam," he said. "But your vision is far too precious to gamble with.”

Australian comedian and MDFA Ambassador Jeanne Kittson, agreed with Jacobson. Kittson mother who is ninety has had age-related macular degeneration for over thirty years.

“You are risking your vision if you don’t have regular eye exams, including a check of the macula,” Kittson says. “Early diagnosis is imperative for treatment, so my key message for everyone is get your macula checked, especially if you have someone in your family with AMD.”