Broadcaster Chris Smith is a walking, talking example of why we all need to visit the optometrist for regular eye exams once we turn 50.
When he was just 52, the TV host and radio broadcaster hardly noticed anything wrong with his vision.
It was only when his wife – nutritionist Susie Burrell – was working on a campaign around eye-healthy foods that Chris happened to book an appointment with an optometrist, who diagnosed him with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in 2015.
“That was a shock,” the now-57-year-old admits.
“It obviously upset me a lot… but it’s stabilised, and that’s a good thing.
They (optometrists) don’t see any discernible difference between how it’s been for the last five years, which is good. It’s static. That doesn’t mean it’s going to stay that way or get better, but it’s good that I can still do stuff. It hasn’t hampered me doing things.”
Catching his AMD so early meant Chris could make the lifestyle changes he needed to slow down the progression of the disease.
A macula-friendly diet – featuring oily fish such as salmon and dark leafy greens like spinach – as well as plenty of exercise with his twin four-year-olds Gus and Harry has helped maintain Chris’ vision.
Now, Chris is imploring Australians in their 50s to take the Check My Macula quiz
and, if necessary, take the same early action he did.
In five easy questions and under a minute, Check My Macula
reveals your individual risk factors for macular disease, then helps you book in with an optometrist for a potentially sight-saving eye exam, including a check of the macula.
“If you’re getting problems with your eyes, you shouldn’t put up with that. You need to actually make sure whether there’s any age-related macular degeneration. You should ask for a test about it,” Chris says.
“You don’t want to be partially blind. That deprives you of so many things in life, including spending time with your grandchildren and seeing the expressions on their faces. You don’t want to allow things to just go their way and end up partially blind.
“The earlier they can get in and help you, the better it is.”
Check My Macula
For more information about AMD and other macular diseases, please contact Macular Disease Foundation Australia. MDFA operates a free National Helpline (1800 111 709) to provide information and support to members of the macular disease community, their families and carers.
Are you at risk of AMD? Get started by taking the quiz to learn what to do. Go to Check My Macula at www.CheckMyMacula.com.au and in under a minute, you’ll know your risk factors.
You can also download or order our free age-related macular degeneration booklet.