Reduce Your Risk of Macular Degeneration With a Healthy Diet and Habits

Good news: you can reduce your risk of macular degeneration with a healthy diet and lifestyle. The New England Eye Center suggests these habits for those aged 55 or older, but they are beneficial to everyone.

Studies have demonstrated that diets rich in fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts may reduce the risk of AMD. They also contain vitamins and minerals which could potentially protect the macula.

Eat a Healthy Diet

Maintaining a healthy diet and making lifestyle adjustments can significantly reduce your risk for macular degeneration. A balanced diet should include plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, lean meats, poultry, fish and beans; all provide essential vitamins and minerals like carotenoids (lutein and zeaxanthin) which have been known to protect the macula.

Eating a nutritious diet can reduce your risk of obesity and high blood pressure – both of which are known to be risk factors for macular degeneration. Eating plenty of fruit and vegetables, fish, and low-fat dairy also helps shield you against other health issues like diabetes and heart disease.

Many people are uncertain about what constitutes a healthy diet and which foods to consume to promote good health. Although there are various popular eating plans that have different requirements, Amy Kimberlain, a registered dietitian in Miami, emphasizes the importance of getting enough of the right nutrients through your food intake.

According to the USDA, you should eat a variety of foods from all five major food groups daily: fruits and vegetables, grain products, milk, meat and fish. Eating a balanced diet helps ensure you don’t get too much or too little of any essential nutrients and keeps you feeling energised throughout the day.

As much as possible, try to replace unhealthy foods with healthier options. Making lifestyle changes doesn’t have to be complicated – simply eliminate processed items and replace them with fresh, wholesome whole foods. If you’re having trouble making this change on your own, consult a dietitian for assistance in creating an individual-specific healthy eating plan that meets all of your requirements.

Avoid Smoking

Smoking is one of the worst things you can do for your health. It damages nearly every organ in the body and increases your risk for cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, lung diseases and some eye diseases. Smoking increases exposure to carcinogens that have a devastating impact on overall wellness.

Smokers have an increased likelihood of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of irreversible vision loss in America. Quitting smoking is the best way to protect against AMD and slow its progression.

Smoking tobacco smoke is highly toxic and damages the parts of the eyes that provide clear vision, such as the retina and lens. This damage can make your vision cloudy or blurry, or even cause it to fade completely away.

Scientists have observed that smokers are at greater risk for developing early AMD and seeing it progress more rapidly than nonsmokers, suggesting the disease may also be more challenging to treat.

Researchers have also identified genes linked to smoking and AMD risk, including HTRA1 serine peptidase 1 and CX3CR1. These genes could potentially explain why smokers have an increased likelihood of developing AMD.

Another study suggests that tobacco smoke may exacerbate choroidal neovascularization, a hallmark feature of AMD. Furthermore, it causes inflammation and damage to the eyes.

According to a systematic review of the literature, smoking has an established causal connection between smoking and AMD. These studies met established causality criteria derived from Hill10 and later modified by Susser11. Therefore, it is critical to recognize how smoking contributes to the development and progression of AMD, as well as encourage patients to quit smoking.

Exercise Regularly

One of the best ways to reduce your risk for macular degeneration is exercising regularly. Not only does it aid weight loss, improve moods and raise energy levels, but it also improves heart health by lowering cholesterol and blood pressure – potentially decreasing diabetes risk as well as some types of cancers.

According to a study published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology, people who exercise three times or more per week had an 87% lower risk for developing wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD). With wet AMD, blood vessels form beneath the macula (part of the eye that converts light into neurological signals) and leak fluid into the retina.

Additionally, a diet rich in antioxidants and nutrients can reduce the risk of macular degeneration. These include foods like fatty fish, eggs, fortified milks and cereals fortified with vitamin D.

Eating healthily can help to prevent diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure. Maintain a normal cholesterol level and avoid foods that contain partially hydrogenated fats (PHFs). PHF oils are bad for your body and eyes; replace them with olive oil, canola oil or flaxseed oil instead.

If you have diabetes, it’s essential to monitor your blood sugar levels and make sure all medications are working effectively. Additionally, if you have high blood pressure, your doctor can provide medication to reduce this stress.

Regular physical activity can improve cognitive function and protect the brain from aging effects. It increases blood flow and oxygen to the brain, aiding memory consolidation and learning skills development.

Start by walking for 30 minutes each day or engaging in aerobic activities such as swimming or yoga. It is best to start slowly and increase your exercise time and intensity over several months.

Wear Sunglasses

Sunglasses may be associated with fashion, but they also play an essential role in protecting your eyes and maintaining vision. Sunglasses reduce exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays that cause photochemical burns as well as other eye problems like cataracts and macular degeneration.

The macula, the central area of the retina, is highly sensitive to UV rays from the sun and continuous exposure can have detrimental effects. Prolonged exposure leads to free radicals forming that damage light-detecting receptors within the retina; eventually leading to degenerative changes and retinal degeneration.

According to experts, wearing sunglasses is one of the best ways to protect and maintain healthy eyes. They block out 99 to 100% of UV rays that could harm your vision, as well as reduce glare sensitivity – a common issue among those suffering from macular degeneration.

When selecting sunglasses, ensure they offer the highest level of UV protection and are constructed from quality materials. Polarized lenses will reduce glare reflected off water, roads or cars’ hoods.

Lenses that filter out blue light – the light responsible for making things appear bluer – can also be beneficial. These lenses come in sunglasses, prescription glasses and contact lenses and may help protect your retina from potential damage.

Another advantage of wearing sunglasses is they can prevent dust and grit from getting into your eyes during windy conditions or while playing sports. This could lead to irritated eyes and discomfort.

If you have macular degeneration, opt for sunglasses with amber or brown lenses to improve contrast and reduce glare. Consult your eye doctor to make sure you have the appropriate lenses to meet your vision needs.

Take Supplements

Maintaining a nutritious diet and adopting healthy habits are essential for protecting your eyes, decreasing the likelihood of macular degeneration. These include abstaining from smoking, exercising regularly, and wearing sunglasses. You may also take supplements that aid in vision protection.

Eating a nutritious diet can provide your body with essential vitamins and nutrients that may help ward off macular degeneration. These include lutein and zeaxanthin (carotenoids), vitamin A, vitamin C, zinc, and selenium.

Eating a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fruits and vegetables, can slow the progression of macular degeneration. Other dietary factors that can reduce your risk for macular degeneration include avoiding foods that lead to weight gain or obesity, controlling blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and getting regular exercise.

The Age-Related Eye Disease Study, or AREDS, revealed that taking supplements of beta carotene, vitamin E, copper, vitamin C and zinc could reduce your risk for advanced AMD. A later AREDS 2 study added lutein and zeaxanthin to this formula which further boosts macula’s protective pigments.

Lutein and zeaxanthin can be found in a variety of vegetables, such as kale, spinach, collard greens, broccoli, carrots, yellow or orange peppers and sweet potatoes. You can supplement your diet with lutein and zeaxanthin by taking them either in tablet, capsule or powder form as part of an AREDS2 supplement.

It is essential to consult your doctor about which supplements are suitable for you and how to take them safely. Be sure to mention any other medications you take, since some may interact with supplements.

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