Tips from the IALVS for Avoiding Macular Degeneration
How can you reduce your risk of macular degeneration?
Presently, macular degeneration is a primary cause of vision loss in America, affecting more people than glaucoma and cataracts combined. Based on these statistics, you may be wondering if there are any proactive measures you can take that are helpful for avoiding macular degeneration.
Macular degeneration causes damage to the central portion of your retina (the macula), which is the part of the eye that records and sends images from the eye to the brain. Without clear vision in the macula, it becomes difficult to read, recognize faces, see colors distinctly, drive, or view any objects in detail.
If you were already diagnosed with macular degeneration and find it challenging to cope with vision loss, an IALVS eye doctor can help you to regain independence by maximizing your remaining vision with a range of low vision strategies and devices. Don’t give up on the activities you want to do – contact an IALVS eye doctor near you for low vision assistance!
If you have not been diagnosed with this age-related eye disease, now is the time to learn about avoiding macular degeneration. We have prepared the following tips to promote your healthy vision:
Eat a nutritious diet
- Choose to eat foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids regularly, at least once or twice a week. Good choices include sardines, mackerel, salmon, albacore tuna, and herring.
- Eat green, leafy vegetables (such as spinach and kale), which are packed with carotenoids - the foundation of vitamin A. Additionally, they contain lutein and zeaxanthin, pigments that are also found in the macula and may help filter out dangerous blue light rays.
- Stay away from junk food and processed snacks, such as potato chips, candy, cookies, and sodas. This is largely because partially hydrogenated fats, such as coconut or palm oils, are associated with the development of AMD. Olive oil, canola oil, and flaxseed oil are much healthier choices for preserving your eye health.
Keep blood tests normal
It’s essential to maintain normal blood pressure, normal blood cholesterol levels, and normal blood glucose levels. A healthy weight can also help to keep your eye health strong.
According to research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, regular puffers greatly increase their chances of developing macular degeneration. The more you smoke and the longer you smoke, the higher your risk of AMD. The good news is that even if you’ve been smoking for years, quitting smoking goes far towards prevention and avoiding macular degeneration.
A study that was conducted of about 4,000 seniors over a 15-year span, called the Beaver Dam Eye Study, found that people who exercised three or more times a week lowered their risk of developing wet macular degeneration. Even a half an hour a day of moderate physical activity, such as walking, can reduce your chances of AMD.
Shade your eyes from the sun and from digital tech
UV rays and high-energy visible radiation from blue light are considered very harmful to the health of your retina, contributing to the development of many eye diseases, including macular degeneration. The sun is the primary source of ultraviolet light and blue light, but these hazardous rays are also emitted by other types of lighting and technology, such as digital screens.
In the healthy eye, a substance called melanin helps to naturally protect your retina against UV and blue light. However, by the time you reach 65 years old, at least half of your melanin is gone – as a result of normal aging. That leaves your eyes more susceptible to disease, such as macular degeneration. People who work or spend a lot of recreation time in the sun are at a particularly high risk, as are people who spend hours in front of a computer screen that emits blue light.
Certain medications also make your eyes more vulnerable to damage from blue light and UV rays. Some photosensitizing drugs include specific tranquilizers, diuretics, oral contraceptives, anti-diabetic and anti-hypertensive medications, and some antibiotics.
Fortunately, you can solve this problem by putting on a pair of quality sunglasses when you’re outdoors. Sunglasses with lenses that are labeled UV 400 offer ultimate protection from potentially damaging light rays. In addition, ask your optometrist about melanin lenses, an advanced type of protective lenses. When indoors and using a computer, wear glasses or contacts with built-in blue light protection.
Take eye health supplements
If you have a family history of AMD and want to do something about avoiding macular degeneration, the Age-Related Eye Disease study (ARED) showed that taking supplements with lutein, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, zeaxanthin, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids can have many eye health benefits.
Consult your IALVS eye doctor for more information
Avoiding macular degeneration should be a top priority for everyone, regardless of age. The best way to prevent vision loss in the future is by protecting your eyes in the present. For more tips on how to preserve and optimize your vision, consult with a local IALVS eye doctor.