6 Effective Ways to Avoid Macular Degeneration

To avoid severe vision loss, age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a frequent cause of vision loss in later life, should be detected, treated, and monitored early. A few easy lifestyle adjustments, such as a change in diet, regular exercise, and stopping smoking, can minimize your risk of AMD.

This is especially essential for persons with a family history of AMD, who are four times more likely than the general population to get the condition. You may be able to reduce your chance of developing a disease that causes gradual and often irreversible retinal damage and visual loss by following seven easy lifestyle changes.

1. Consume more antioxidant-rich foods 

Antioxidants protect normal cells from oxidative stress by "donating" electrons to free radicals. Because of its high oxygen consumption, the retina is vulnerable to oxidative stress in AMD (via blood vessels in the choroid).

It has been suggested that a diet high in antioxidant foods can help certain people avoid and even treat macular degeneration. Carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin, as well as flavonoids like anthocyanin, are abundant in these foods.

2. Eat fewer carbs 

Reduced consumption of simple carbs may help delay or halt AMD progression. Simple carbs, such as white sugar and refined flour, have a high glycemic index (GI), which means they cause blood sugar to surge and then drop quickly after consumption. These high variations cause widespread inflammation in the body, which can become chronic if simple carbs are consumed on a daily basis.

According to a 2012 review of studies published in Molecular Aspects of Medicine, a high GI diet increases the risk of AMD by 1.7 times and the likelihood of developing late AMD by 39 percent. A low-GI diet, on the other hand, reduces the risk of AMD and its progression.

3. Check your eye health 

As you get older, regular eye exams should be considered a routine component of your health care. This can assist your doctor in detecting early signs of macular degeneration (including the formation of deposits, called drusen, in the retina). If you have AMD, your eye exam can look for any visual decline.

The Amsler grid is a self-help test that can assist you to determine if you need an eye exam. The test, which involves staring at a 4-inch by 4-inch grid, may indicate that you have AMD if the lines appear wavy or if you observe dark spots in the center of your field of vision.

4. Give up smoking 

Smoking is one of the primary causes of severe AMD visual loss. When compared to non-smokers, it hastens the progression of the disease by up to five times. Smoking reduces the effectiveness of treatments by raising the number of oxidants in the bloodstream and eyes.

5. Wear sunglasses 

There is no evidence that exposure to the sun raises the risk of AMD. 18 However, prolonged exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun can cause retinal damage, which not only speeds up the disease's progression but also leads to the formation of cataracts.

The American Macular Degeneration Foundation (AMDF) suggests that you wear sunglasses with a UV 400 rating to lower your risk of macular degeneration. A UV 400 rating assures that all light rays with wavelengths up to 400 nanometers are blocked, resulting in a 99 percent reduction in UV exposure.

6. Take a daily supplement 

Antioxidants are found in a variety of foods, but they are not the only source of antioxidants that can help persons with AMD. When taken daily, certain dietary supplements, according to research done by the National Eye Institute (NEI), can reduce or stop the progression of early or intermediate AMD.

The Age-Related Eye Disease Studies (AREDS) 1 and 2 were two NEI trials that looked into whether certain vitamins and minerals could reduce or prevent AMD progression.

A unique blend of antioxidants and minerals lowered the incidence of late AMD by 25% in the AREDS1 trial, which included 4,457 patients. The formula was as follows:

  • 15 milligrams beta-carotene (mg)

  • 2 mg copper (cupric oxide)

  • 500 mg vitamin C

  • 400 international units of vitamin E (IU)

  • 80 mg zinc (zinc oxide)

The AREDS2 experiment, which included 3,529 people, discovered that supplementing with lutein (10 mg) and zeaxanthin (2 mg) lowered the risk by 10% and 25%, respectively.