4 Tips to Help Prevent Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Age-related macular degeneration, also called AMD, affects your central vision. It’s most common among people over 60 and is, in fact, the leading cause of vision loss for that age group.
Because it only affects your central vision and not your peripheral, or side, vision, it never leads to complete vision loss. But, if it gets to an advanced stage, macular degeneration could interfere with your daily activities such as reading, driving, writing, cooking, and recognizing faces and objects.
The macula is located in the back of your eye in the center of the retina. The retina acts as a conduit between your vision and your brain. The macula is responsible for your sharp, central vision, helping you see objects in front of you. As you get older, the macula gets thinner, making objects appear blurry or washed out. Often, people with macular degeneration see black spots or wavy lines.
In some people, this change is gradual, while for others it comes on suddenly. The condition can affect one or both eyes.
How to prevent age-related macular degeneration
There are several risk factors for developing AMD that are beyond your control. These include:
- Race (AMD is more common among Caucasians)
- Family history (you’re at risk if a close family member had AMD)
- Light-colored eyes
Fortunately, there are also risk factors that you can control. The board-certified and fellowship-trained ophthalmologists at University Retina in Oak Forest, Illinois, have special expertise in AMD management and treatment. They put together these four tips to help you prevent age-related macular degeneration and preserve your vision.
1. Maintain a healthy weight
Someone who is obese is more likely to develop macular degeneration than someone who has a healthy body weight. Additionally, conditions like high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels have been linked to a greater risk of developing AMD.
By eating a healthy diet rich in green, leafy vegetables, fish, and whole grains, you can lose or maintain your weight as well as reduce your risk for other health conditions, including heart disease, which is another risk factor for AMD.
2. Quit smoking
Studies show that smoking can greatly increase your risk of developing age-related macular degeneration or speed up your vision loss if you have AMD. Even past smokers or people who are regularly exposed to smoke have a higher risk of developing AMD. The chemicals in cigarettes can damage the retina as well as limit the blood and oxygen that gets to your brain. But, you can cut your risk dramatically if you quit.
3. Keep your other health conditions under control
As mentioned, heart disease, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure are all risk factors for developing AMD. If you have any of these conditions, take your medication and make sure your blood pressure and cholesterol levels are in the normal range through diet, exercise, and medication to help reduce your risk for AMD, as well as other health conditions such as diabetes.
4. See an eye doctor regularly
Only an eye specialist can diagnose and treat age-related macular degeneration. See your eye doctor right away if you notice any vision changes, and visit your eye doctor annually for checkups to prevent or correct vision issues and loss.
If you suspect you have AMD or are at high risk for developing the disease, call University Retina or make an appointment online. There is no cure, but with the expert treatment at University Retina, you can get the specialized care you need to prevent vision loss.