When it comes to your vision, prevention is your best friend. Protecting your eyes from disease is much easier and less expensive than treating a chronic condition. You have probably heard of age-related macular degeneration, but do you know what it is? If you do not understand the nature of a disease, it is impossible to know how to reduce your risk.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a disease in which the macula, the central part of the retina, breaks down. The macula is responsible for central vision and keeps your eyesight sharp and detailed. When the macula thins and breaks down, it can cause vision loss and even to the point of legal blindness. There are two types of AMD: dry AMD and wet AMD (Source: Harvard Health Publications).
There is no certain way to prevent AMD, but there are some proactive steps that anyone can take to delay its onset or reduce the severity. Here are some daily decisions that you can make to help reduce your risk of AMD:
- Stay out of the sun. Ultraviolet radiation is thought to promote the development of AMD, although more research needs to be done to establish a stronger connection. UV rays contribute to many other eye problems like cataracts and glaucoma. Protect your eyes by wearing a hat or sporting some cool shades that offer UVA and UVB protection.
- Quit smoking. Smoking can increase the rate of AMD damage and is detrimental to your overall health. If you need help quitting smoking, talk to your primary care physician.
- Eat a diet that is high in fresh fruits and vegetables. Dark, leafy greens such as collard greens, kale and spinach are especially good for eye health because they are high in lutein and zeaxanthin.
- Take your vitamins. For those who are at risk for developing advanced stages of “wet” AMD, concentrated combinations of antioxidant vitamins and minerals may lower your risk for progression of AMD by 25 percent.
- Eat fish and other foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids. It is not proven that omega-3 supplements can prevent AMD, but a diet that is rich in fish and other foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids can help keep you healthy and maintain strong vision.