Onset of disease can ruin your life
HAVING his licence taken away after doctors detected macular degeneration two years ago completely devastated and changed the life of 77-year-old Gin Gin man Abe Bos.
The disease, which is the leading cause of blindness, causes loss of central vision, vital to the ability to read, drive, recognise faces and see colours clearly.
And alarming statistics now show the Hinkler electorate has the third highest prevalence of macular degeneration in Australia, and is predicted to have the highest rates of the disease by 2030.
Mr Bos was diagnosed with macular degeneration in his left eye in 2004.
"I first suspected problems when I experienced flashes of light at night and floating cobwebs during the day, with faces being distorted," he said.
After Mr Bos was told he could no longer drive in 2011, he visited Bundaberg optometrist Anthony Kelly, who gave him a full examination and prescribed reading glasses as well as special sunglasses.
"Together with the glasses, special eye exercises, some good supplements and a good diet, I have been able to get my medical clearance to drive, renewed again this year," he said.
Macular Disease Foundation general manager Lucy Walker said the foundation hoped to have an Amsler Grid - which is used to self-monitor eyesight - in every household in coming years.
"It's self-monitoring that's really important," she said.
The increasing number of people with macular degeneration could face major issues getting treatment through the public system, as none of the Wide Bay's three major hospitals have a public ophthalmologist.
But Mr Bos said he was learning to live with the disease.
"Some things in life are difficult - not being able to read white newspaper print on dark backgrounds," he said.