May 25-31 marks Macular Degeneration Awareness Week, a time to put the spotlight on a part of the body we can often take for granted.
Macular Degeneration (MD) affects 1 in 7 people over the age of 50, and according to Macular Degeneration New Zealand (MDNZ), the number of people with MD will increase by 70% by 2030.
MD affects the central part of the retina (the macula). This is the light sensitive tissue at the back of the eye which processes all visual images and helps you read, see colours, drive and recognise faces. MD causes a distortion of the centre of vision and may lead to loss of central vision entirely.
Smokers are three times more at risk of developing MD. Family history can also play a role, according to MDNZ - yet surprisingly, Specsavers research found that half of participants didn't know their family's eye health history, and less than half had heard of MD.*
When it comes to prevention, early detection is vital. Specsavers advises everyone to have regular eye exams every two years to maintain good eye health.
Nutritionally, food writer Trudi Nelson says there are certain foods that can support better eye health.
"Foods rich in omega-3s, vitamin A, C and E, selenium and zinc will help keep your vision sharp," Ms Nelson said.
Foods rich in antioxidants are also important, including leafy greens, red and orange vegetables, oily fish, nuts and eggs.
Trudi recommends these foods for lively eyes:
*Independent survey of 1,549 New Zealanders commissioned by Specsavers