Macular testing for old eyes
A visionary test available at the University of Canberra is helping researchers focus on eye health in older Australians.
Age-related macular degeneration occurs when parts of the retina, at the rear of the eye, undergo physical changes that can leave the sufferer vision-impaired or blind.
Assistant Professor of Optometry Ron Sabeti, who is studying the disease, is providing early-detection services and contributing to a better understanding of the causes of macular degeneration.
“A world-first tool to assess the macular has been developed right here in Canberra and we’re putting it to use assessing people for macular degeneration,” Dr Sabeti said.
“Through the newly launched School of Optometry at the University of Canberra, we are offering macular tests to the public for free, targeting older Canberrans. At the same time, we’re hoping to add to our understanding of the cause of macular degeneration.
“The test is easy and non-invasive. It involves looking in the device for a few minutes while small lights are flashed in the periphery of the person’s vision. From the data, we get a very good idea of the state of their macular and the risk of degeneration.”
Dr Sabeti and his colleagues are hoping that studying a group of people over time may reveal the causal link of macular degeneration and put some theories to the test.
“Pigmentation in the macular is currently linked to the risk of degeneration and there are several ‘nutraceutical’ products on the market to help people maintain their macular pigmentation, but there have been few trials of these products.
“Diabetes can contribute to macular degeneration, but degeneration can also occur in otherwise healthy individuals. Hopefully our new tests can predict those who may be more likely to suffer deterioration and monitor them closely for changes in their macular and vision.”
Dr Sabeti wants Canberrans aged 65 years and older to take up the offer of a free macular test, participate in his research study and undertake a follow-up assessment in the coming year.
Work is underway for a new eye clinic at the University of Canberra Health Hub. The facility will combine clinical services with learning and research opportunities for students from the University’s School of Optometry.
25 March 2018.