Can Macular Degeneration Be Prevented?
Macular degeneration is the deterioration of the macula—the central part of the retina—that is responsible for central vision, allowing us to see fine details and color. It enables us to watch TV, read, drive, recognize faces, and so much more.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of vision loss in people over 60. An estimated 11 million people in the United States and 1.4 million people in Canada have some form of macular degeneration.
Currently, there is no cure for this eye condition. However, there are a number of things you can do to reduce your risk of getting the disease and prevent vision loss.
Ways to Prevent Macular Degeneration
There are certain measures you can take to prevent or slow the progression of macular degeneration. These include eating healthy foods, not smoking, eating fish or taking omega 3 supplements, and exercising regularly. Below is a more detailed list of ways to help prevent or slow the progression of macular degeneration.
If you’re a smoker, one of the best ways to prevent AMD is to stop smoking. Smoking has been shown to be a major risk factor for developing macular degeneration.
- A University of Manchester study found that smokers are up to 4x more likely than non-smokers to suffer from macular degeneration.
- In a Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary study, current and past smokers had a 1.9- and 1.7-fold risk of AMD compared with non-smokers.
To help prevent macular degeneration, eat plenty of dark, leafy greens. Researchers at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary reported that people who consumed the most vegetables rich in carotenoids had a 43% lower risk of AMD than those who ate these foods the least.
Carotenoid-rich vegetables include dark, leafy greens, especially collard greens, kale and raw spinach.
Eat more fish
Studies have also shown that eating fish helps prevent macular degeneration.
- Researchers at the University of Sydney found that study participants (aged 49 and older) who ate fish at least once a week were 40% less likely to have the early-stage AMD compared with those who reported eating fish less than once a month or not at all. Those who ate fish at least 3x a week were less likely to have late-stage AMD.
- Similar findings were found by the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary. Their study showed that senior men who had more than two servings of fish weekly were 45% less likely to have AMD than those who ate fish less than one serving per week.
Consider taking an AREDS nutritional supplement
AREDS and AREDS2 formulas are nutritional supplements that have been clinically proven to reduce the risk of AMD progression.
The AREDS and AREDS2 formulas are combinations of a high dose of daily vitamins and minerals including vitamins C and E, copper, lutein, zinc and zeaxanthin.
Control your blood pressure and cholesterol
Cholesterol is a fatty substance that can build up in blood vessels and prevent the blood flow essential for maintaining healthy eye tissue. Controlling your cholesterol can protect you from developing macular degeneration.
Furthermore, blood pressure control may be an important factor in AMD prevention. The Framingham Heart and Eye Studies and Beaver Dam Eye Study conducted a study that indicated a significant link between high blood pressure and the development of advanced, potentially blinding forms of macular degeneration.
Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy weight
Regular exercise can reduce the risk of developing macular degeneration.
According to a study in the British Journal of Ophthalmology, researchers found that people who led an active lifestyle were 70% less likely to have AMD develop during the follow-up period.
Undergo routine eye exams
Lastly, have your eyes checked regularly. By performing a comprehensive eye exam, your eye doctor can help catch AMD early. The earlier macular degeneration is diagnosed, the sooner you can start a treatment plan that may slow the disease and keep you from developing severe vision loss. In some cases, treatment can restore some lost vision. Contact Dr. Boaz Schwartz, O.D., FAAO to find the best treatment plan and learn about steps you can take to manage your AMD.Our practice serves patients from Mount Airy, Frederick, Baltimore, and Gaithersburg, Maryland and surrounding communities.