Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a serious eye disease that can result in the loss of central vision. Early diagnosis and effective treatment can help slow or stop further loss of sight, however there are several steps that can be taken today to also lower the risk of AMD-related vision loss.
Don’t skip annual eye exams
As we age, the risk increases for developing vision problems such as eye disorders or diseases like macular degeneration. Routine comprehensive eye exams are important because they give your eye doctor the opportunity to monitor your eye health over time. Exams at regular intervals begin to show patterns or progression of potential vision problem risk factors. Even if you aren’t yet exhibiting symptoms, your eye doctor may be able to detect vision problems or disorders early in their development during a dilated eye exam. Early diagnosis can help in faster, more effective treatment, ultimately helping to preserve vision.
One of the most important risk factors, smoking can actually double a person’s risk of developing AMD. Smoking creates exposure to dangerous elements that can cause cellular damage and prevent important nutrients from reaching the retina. Stopping smoking can greatly lower the risk of AMD-related vision loss, and provide many other health benefits at the same time.
Maintain Healthy Weight and Blood Pressure Levels
There are several reasons to focus on healthy vital statistics to prevent AMD-related vision loss. Maintaining a healthy weight directly impacts blood pressure levels. Losing weight is a proven way to lower blood pressure, which can contribute to AMD. For those with high blood pressure, poor blood circulation can occur and restrict blood flow to the eyes. This poses a risk factor for developing AMD, as the constriction of the blood vessels prevents necessary nourishment from reaching the retina.
Eat a Diet Rich in Fruits and Vegetables
Antioxidant vitamins – often found in foods like spinach, kale, and swiss chard – help protect against cellular damage that can contribute to eye diseases like AMD. It is also recommended to eat foods containing high levels of lutein and zeaxanthin, which are thought to further protect the eyes. Foods high in these include egg yolk, yellow corn, kiwi, grapes, and zucchini. Research has shown that people who eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, as well as twice-weekly meals of fat-rich fish like salmon or mackerel, have a lower risk of vision loss related to AMD.
Regulate Sun Exposure
Long-term exposure to bright sunlight has been cited as a possible contributor to AMD-related vision loss. Wearing sunglasses offers necessary protection from UV and blue light that can cause retinal damage. According to the American Macular Degeneration Foundation, the recommendation is to wear sunglasses with a “UV 400” label. Generally limiting long-term exposure to sunlight, and wearing sunglasses whenever in the sun, can help in lowering the risk of vision loss.
Know Your Family History
Unsurprisingly, people with a first-degree relative who has AMD have a greater risk of developing the disease themselves. Because of this, it is important that people thoroughly know and understand their family history, and share this information with their eye care provider. By knowing family history, and maintaining regular comprehensive eye exams, the risk of vision loss from AMD can be lowered and mitigated more quickly.
ReFocus Eye Health physicians are committed to supporting patients as they work to lower their risk of AMD-related vision loss. Schedule a comprehensive eye exam today to learn more and begin the journey with our care team.