February is AMD Awareness Month
One of the most common vision problems in people over 50 is age-related macular degeneration (AMD). It is painless and doesn’t cause complete blindness, but it does affect central vision in both eyes. This makes doing simple things such as reading, watching TV and recognising people’s faces very hard.
There is significant evidence to suggest that lifestyle choices can slow down macular degeneration and may even help prevent it in people with uncontrollable risk factors. So, if you have a family member with AMD, or suffer from one of the other high-risk factors, it’s time to start taking charge of your eye health
What Can I Do About AMD?
There are lots of ways to reduce the progression of macular degeneration, that will also help keep your whole body happier and healthier.
1. Stop smoking
Smoking is one of the biggest contributors to macular degeneration. Recent research by the RNIB suggest that smoking can make you up to 5 times as likely of developing AMD. If you are genetically predisposed to macular degeneration, smoking increases the risk by 200 fold.
The reason for this is twofold: blood circulation and lutein absorption. Lutein is an antioxidant that protects the retina. Tobacco appears to interfere with the absorption of lutein, meaning you have lower levels of this vital antioxidant. Smoking also affects your circulatory system. Good blood pressure and healthy circulation help keep your eyes healthy and smoking reduces both.
2. Eat more healthily
Because antioxidants help protect the eyes from AMD, a regular and abundant intake of dark, leafy greens helps reduce the progress of macular degeneration. Antioxidants can be found in many fruits and vegetables, so make sure you’re having them as part of a healthy, balanced diet. People who eat fish have a lower risk of AMD. This is because Omega-3 is an essential nutrient for the eyes.
As you can imagine, eating healthily includes cutting out saturated fats and processed food. Hi-glycemic foods and foods that build up cholesterol are bad for your heart and blood circulation, which increases the risk of AMD.
If you suffer from diabetes, you are at higher risk of macular degeneration. Speak to your GP about the possibility of supplements to offset the potential change in diet, particularly the need for more fruit.
3. Protect your eyes from UV rays
We all know that UV rays and blue light can damage your retina. Damage to your retina increases your risk of AMD, so it’s important to protect your eyes when you go outside. When picking a new pair of sunglasses, opt for wrap around frames because they give you the most protection and speak to your optometrist about which tint is right for you.
Find out more about AMD
Age-related macular degeneration may be common in people over 45, but it is preventable and manageable by living a healthy lifestyle. Remember to get exercise, keep your blood pressure and cholesterol low and your fruit and veg intake high. These little changes towards a healthier lifestyle will make a big difference when you can still see what’s going on around you 30 years from now. Speak to us today for more information.