Did you know 11 million people in the United States have some form of age-related macular degeneration? In fact, doctors and researchers expect this number to double to 22 million by 2050. Macular degeneration (MD) primarily affects central vision, which causes “blind spots” when looking directly ahead. In addition, this ocular disease:
- is a leading cause of blindness in Americans 60 years of age and older.
- accounts for approximately US$98 billion healthcare costs in the US, Canada, and Cuba
From a worldwide perspective, the number of people living with macular degeneration is expected to reach 196 million in 2020 and increase to 288 million by 2040. These overwhelming numbers will continue to rise if we do not take the necessary steps to take care of our eyes.
What You Should Do to Prevent Macular Degeneration
By making specific changes to your daily routine, you can prevent or slow down the progress of macular degeneration. However, keep in mind that if you are strongly genetically predisposed to getting this ocular disease, it still may still develop and worsen.
Below, Arizona Retinal Specialists discusses the lifestyle changes that may prevent the onset of macular degeneration. If diagnosed with MD, the following may also reduce disease progression:
Smokers are four times more likely to develop macular degeneration than nonsmokers. Tobacco smoking is the single most controllable risk factor that contributes to macular degeneration. Every stick of cigarette you smoke causes your blood vessels to narrow, which can gradually damage your vision.
If you are a heavy smoker and find it difficult to quit, NYU Langone’s Tobacco Cessation Programs can help you stop for good.
Reduce Refined Carbs in Your Diet
A diet high in refined carbohydrates is not only harmful to your general health, but it may also increase your risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Highly processed foods such as white flour, white rice, white bread, white potatoes, pasta, and sweets have a high glycemic index, which causes rapid blood sugar increase and insulin release.
A serving of your favorite pasta carbonara or roasted potatoes are not bad occasionally. However, it is best to consume gluten-free, sugar-free, and low-carb options to lower your risk for AMD.
Eat More Fish
Eating plenty of fish, which is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, is helpful to your eyes. A study conducted at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary concluded that senior men who consume more than two servings of fish every week were 45 percent less likely to develop AMD.
Eat More Dark Leafy Greens
Eating plenty of dark leafy greens, which are full of antioxidants, presents several benefits to your health, including its potential in helping with macular degeneration prevention. According to a study published by researchers at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, people who ate vegetables rich in carotenoids, including lutein and zeaxanthin, had a 43 percent lower risk of AMD. Among the vegetables high in antioxidants include spinach, kale, and collard greens.
The same study further notes that “consumption of foods rich in certain carotenoids, particularly dark green, leafy vegetables, may decrease the risk of developing advanced or exudative (‘wet’) AMD, the most visually disabling form of macular degeneration among older people.”
Consider Taking Multivitamins
Vitamins and minerals perform hundreds of protagonist roles in the body. They help strengthen bones, heal wounds, bolster immune systems, and boost general eye health. For older adults, it may be difficult to acquire all the essential nutrients you need from diet alone. The next time you visit your doctor, ask him or her for suggestions regarding which supplements might work best for your specific health needs.
You certainly saw this coming. Exercising provides profound benefits to the body, including excellent eye health. Staying active can lower your risk of stroke, heart disease, and high blood pressure, all of which can contribute to macular degeneration. Getting at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day will not only help you maintain a healthy weight, but also reduce your risk of the mentioned ailments above.
If you often feel unmotivated to workout, there are smart ways to trick your brain into exercising, including:
- Remember your goal: Why do you want to exercise in the first place?
- Ask yourself: “Will I regret skipping this workout?”
- Think about how much stronger and fitter you will get
- Exercise with people who will cheer you on
- Your dog wants to go for a walk with you (Don’t leave your buddy hanging!)
- Listen to the voice inside that says, “I can do this!”
- Track your success
Furthermore, a study revealed that new habits could form within a month. If you try something as simple as walking for 30 minutes daily for a few weeks, you might develop a positive addiction that is harder to stop than it was to start.
Use Eyewear Protection
According to Prevent Blindness America, more than 700,000 Americans injure their eyes at work each year. If you think your eyes are safe at home, the same source exclaims that 125,000 people hurt their eyes in the supposed safety of their home. Over 40,000 other American adults and children experience eye injuries during sports, while several thousands of ocular injuries go unreported.
Experts say wearing proper protective eyewear can prevent up to 90 percent of all eye injuries. Also, too much sun can inflict serious damage to your eyes. Wearing wide-brimmed hats and UV protection sunglasses play important roles in protecting your eyes from the harmful effects of the sun.
Get Regular Eye Exams
Last but not the least, we cannot stress enough the importance of having regular eye exams. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends getting a dilated eye exam every two to three years if you are between the ages of 45 and 60, and every year after the age of 60.
Regular eye exams are key to detecting macular degeneration. By maintaining scheduled appointments with your eye doctor, you can monitor your vision and receive proper MD treatment, if and when appropriate. If you are looking for trusted and world-renowned retinal specialists in Sun City, AZ and the surrounding cities, call us at 623-474-3937.