Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of vision loss in Americans age 60 and older. The condition usually appears gradually, but can eventually lead to irreversible vision loss affecting your ability to read, drive, or recognize faces.
Your eyesight plays a pivotal role in your independent life, so it’s important to take every step to reduce your risk for AMD. Fortunately, there are many ways to lower your risk, and the changes can start today.
Eat a Healthy Diet
What you eat affects your vision. People who eat a lot of fruits, vegetables, and fat-rich fish have a lower risk of AMD. These foods contain hundreds of phytochemicals that can be helpful in preserving eyesight. Some of the best foods to add to your diet include broccoli, kale, spinach, orange and yellow peppers, yellow corn, zucchini, squash, grapes, kiwi, and egg yolk.
Take the Appropriate Supplements
If you are at risk for AMD, or you have already been diagnosed with it, talk to your eye doctor about taking an AREDS formula. These formulas contain specific vitamins and antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, zinc, and copper. However, these vitamin blends are not necessarily safe for long-term use, so your doctor will probably prefer you to get as many nutrients as possible from your diet.
Maintain Your Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is linked to many health conditions, and AMD is one of them. High blood pressure causes the blood vessels to constrict, which means less blood flow to the eyes. If the retina is not properly nourished, your eyesight can be negatively affected. Another thing that constricts the blood vessels is smoking. If you smoke, talk to your doctor about quitting. This decision can save your eyesight – and your life.
Limit Sun Exposure
As much as it feels good to be out on a sunny day, long-term light exposure can increase your risk for AMD. Avoid staring at the sun, even for a few minutes, as this can damage the retina. When you are outdoors or driving, wear sunglasses that protect against UVA and UVB rays.
Schedule Regular Eye Exams
Arrange a date with your eye physician every year or two. Eye examinations become particularly important as you get older because the eyes go through many changes. For instance, it’s possible for one eye to be affected by AMD and not the other. Your doctor will run a number of tests and control the progression of the disease. In some cases, it might be possible to restore vision. Early detection is key.
There is no substitute for seeing your eye specialist regularly. Technology has come a long way in treating conditions like AMD, but they are most effective when vision problems are caught early.