Preventing Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Your AMD risk is influenced by both genetic and lifestyle factors. Here are nine age-related macular degeneration prevention tips.
The number of people smoking has significantly decreased in the past decade, but if you are one of the 30.8 million adults still smoking cigarettes, you are putting yourself at a greater risk for AMD..
Multiple studies, including a report in the Journal of the American Medical Association, have confirmed that cigarette smoking increases the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration. Recent studies have found that smoking increases the chances of AMD by up to four times compared to those who have never smoked.
Unfortunately, the increased risk persists even after 15 years of quitting. Along with all of the other health-related ailments caused by smoking, the message is clear: smoking is not good for your health.
Obesity is a well-known risk factor for developing health problems like diabetes and heart disease, but some recent studies have shown that obesity may also play a role in age-related macular degeneration. One study found that the risk factor was more than double for those with a BMI greater than 30 compared with those with a lower BMI. Another study published in 2016 determined that being overweight or obese generally increased one’s chances of AMD, but obese individuals had a 32% increased risk for late-stage age-related macular degeneration.
Lower Your Cholesterol
Not only does high cholesterol increase your chances of stroke, but it can also impact eye health and vision. Not all forms of dry AMD are the same, but for individuals with soft lipids in the outer retina, there may be some hope in the form of a statin medication called Lipitor. A study found that participants with dry AMD taking a cholesterol-lowering medication called atorvastatin saw a reduction in lipid deposits in the retina and mild improvement in vision.
Reduce High Blood Pressure
There’s a known link between high blood pressure and cardiovascular health, but did you know there’s also a connection to age-related macular degeneration? High blood pressure can restrict blood flow and oxygen to important areas of the body like the eyes, increasing one’s risk for AMD. One study found that elevated pulse pressure was significantly associated with an increased risk of late AMD.
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is an antioxidant that protects against free radicals in the body. This beneficial antioxidant found in citrus fruits like oranges is known to prevent many eye-related diseases such as cataracts and reduce the risk of AMD disease progression.
Another beneficial antioxidant is vitamin E, which like vitamin C, protects your body from free radicals. Some studies suggest that vitamin E, found in nuts and sunflower seeds, could play a vital role, along with selenium, but more research needs to be done.
Watch Your Vitamin D
Researchers have found that people with a deficiency in vitamin D are more likely than those without a deficiency to develop AMD. A study suggests that those, especially women at high risk for AMD, should ensure that they are consuming sufficient levels of vitamin D.
Avoid Too Much Sun
At one point, sunlight was considered a potential cause of macular degeneration but based on recent findings, it turns out there is no correlation. That doesn’t mean you should toss the sunglasses aside! Even though sunlight doesn’t increase the risk of AMD, it does increase the risk of cataracts and certain cancers. There’s no need to increase your discomfort or risk to more eye-problems, so wear eye protection.
Enjoy Some Leafy greens
Healthy foods are often touted as a fix for many body ailments, whether it be obesity or lowering high blood pressure, but there’s a good reason for it — eating nutritious foods actually works. Leafy greens like kale, spinach, and collard greens can help prevent macular degeneration because they are rich in vitamins and minerals, like lutein and zeaxanthin, which give your body the building blocks required to keep your eyes healthy.
Limit Processed foods
We’ve already discussed how food plays a huge role in your overall health, but besides eating leafy greens, another big factor is processed foods. Unfortunately, much of western society is built around eating particularly unhealthy processed foods, because they’re “fast,” but that speed does a disservice to your body’s health. Research shows that people who had no AMD or early AMD and who eat processed food like fried foods, processed meat, refined grains, and high-fat dairy products (think corn dogs, white bread, hot dogs, ice cream) we’re more likely to develop vision problems.