How to Slow Down or Prevent Macular Degeneration
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of vision loss in people over the age of 60. It’s so common that one out of fourteen people experience it to some degree!
Let’s go over how to avoid this problem – because it’s never too early or too late to protect your eyes!
Just What is Macular Degeneration?
When macular degeneration occurs, it’s because the nerves and cells of part of the eye (the retina) are damaged. That damage makes vision blurry and distorted. Usually this kind of vision loss is associated with aging.
Age Isn’t the Only Factor
The risks of developing macular degeneration get even higher for anyone who is overweight, has diabetes, has high blood pressure, who smokes, or who simply eats a poor diet.
Obesity and inactivity also cause the disease to advance more rapidly. On top of that, if you’re regularly exposed to cigarette smoke, your risk of developing AMD doubles!
Nutrition is the First Line of Defense
To protect your eyes from macular degeneration, it’s vital that you eat a healthy diet low in sugar (or without it altogether) and rich in vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, and antioxidants. These are proven ways to reduce inflammation and the effects of cellular oxidation (damage caused by free radicals) that wreak havoc on your eyes.
Here are some specific areas to focus on:
You should eat lots of colorful vegetables because they contain loads of antioxidants and the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin. These nutrients are critical for preventing macular degeneration because they form a pigment in your macula, in the back part of each of your eyes. That pigment protects your retinal cells, which are the cells in your eye that allow you to see.
So you really need to eat plenty of leafy greens, peppers, carrots, squash, sweet potato. When it comes to helpful fruits, choose berries and citrus.
A flavonoid called anthocyanin can inhibit macular degeneration (and other diseases). You’ll find anthocyanin in blueberries, raspberries, and cherries. Being low in sugar, these fruits are great to include in your diet!
The bilberry plant also contains powerful flavonoids that support eye function. Bilberry supplements have been shown to relieve eye conditions like macular degeneration by improving blood flow.
Omega-3 fatty acids found in cold water fish can reduce the progression of macular degeneration and even reduce your risk of developing it. Ideally, you should eat a meal of fatty fish at least twice per week and take a high quality fish oil supplement as part of your daily routine.
One of the most potent antioxidants and free radical scavengers is called astaxanthin. It’s what gives lobster, crab, and shrimp their reddish color. Getting rid of free radicals helps prevent or slow down macular degeneration, as well as diabetic retinopathy which causes blindness in some people with diabetes.
Astaxanthin helps to relieve eye fatigue and eye strain. Some higher quality multivitamins contain it.
While outdoors, never look directly at the sun; the UV rays can cause great damage. Wear sunglasses and a hat when outside or driving for long periods of time.
When you’re indoors, make sure you take breaks from watching TV – and from using a computer or device. That will reduce eye strain, which reduces your overall risk for macular degeneration.
Blue light glasses are a great idea. As I mentioned, the high intensity blue light from the sun, computer screens and phones can be damaging to your eyes. Blue light glasses block the damaging blue light wavelength, preventing it from getting at your retina. Even better, these glasses are very inexpensive – like they’ll probably cost less than what you typically spend on lunch. In fact, I keep one pair at my computer workstation and another next to my bed, as I typically look at my phone before going to sleep.
Want more info on protecting your eyes from blue light exposure? Read: Protect Your Eyes From Harmful Blue Light Exposure – From The Inside Out
What I’ve listed here are really the most effective ways to prevent macular degeneration – or to slow its onset and reduce its severity. So, please make an investment now in your general health and the health of your eyes. You won’t regret it!
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