Throughout the month of February, ophthalmologists around the nation are working to raise awareness of macular degeneration, an eye disease that affects central vision and is the leading cause of blindness among Americans age 65 and older. While there is no known cure for macular degeneration, there are ways to reduce one’s risk of developing the disease. In honor of National Macular Degeneration Awareness Month, we share five ways you can reduce your risk of developing the eye condition.
Not only is smoking terrible for your overall health, it can increase your risk of developing eye diseases, including macular degeneration. In fact, one study found smokers are up to four times more likely to develop macular degeneration than non-smokers!
Eat a Balanced Diet
When it comes to healthy eyes, nutrition matters. According to research, eating the right foods can help decrease your risk of certain eye conditions, including cataracts and macular degeneration. A healthy balanced diet should include vegetables rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, two key nutrients for eye health. Eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids (e.g., cold water fish, walnuts and flaxseed) can also prevent macular degeneration or slow down its progression.
According a study from the British Journal of Ophthalmology, regular exercise can reduce your risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) by as much as 70 percent. Exercising regularly is also beneficial in controlling blood pressure and cholesterol, which in turn can help prevent macular degeneration.
Wear Sunglasses Year Round
Research shows long-term eye damage caused by overexposure to the sun can lead to macular degeneration. Safeguard your eyes by wearing sunglasses that offer 100 percent UV protection while outdoors, even during cloudy weather.
Schedule an Eye Exam
While there is no cure yet for macular degeneration, regular eye exams can help detect the condition in its early stages, when it is easier to manage. The goal is to slow its progression and help prolong your vision. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that people between the ages of 45 and 60 have a dilated eye exam every two or three years and those over 60 should have an eye exam every year.
To learn more about macular degeneration, including how to detect and manage it, contact the Ophthalmologists Consultants of Connecticut. Please contact us today.