Though presently there is no treatment for age-related macular degeneration (AMD), it appears there are a number of things you can do to minimize your risk of getting the disease and experiencing AMD-related vision loss. You ought to be especially thorough about taking actions to prevent macular degeneration if there is a history of AMD in your family, which has actually been shown to be a risk factor for the disease.
AMD is the leading cause of irreparable vision loss among elderly people, who gradually lose their main vision. In time, an individual with macular degeneration may find it hard or impossible to read, own or recognize familiar faces.
How To Help Yourself Prevent Macular Degeneration
Here is a list of 11 steps you can take to avoid or slow the progression of macular degeneration, followed by a quick conversation of each action:
- Don’t smoke.
- Eat a lot of dark, leafy green vegetables, such as raw spinach.
- Take a balanced multivitamin/multimineral supplement, such as Centrum Silver, unless your doctor advises otherwise.
- If you currently have AMD, ask your doctor about among the AREDS formulas or other supplements specifically created for macular health, such as I-Caps AREDS 2 (Alcon), PreserVision AREDS 2 (Bausch + Lomb), Eyepex Macula (Eyepex Formulas) or MacularProtect Complete AREDS2 (ScienceBased Health).
- Eat fish or take a fish oil supplement.
- Exercise frequently, and keep a healthy weight.
- Eat fruit and nuts daily.
- Limit your consumption of refined carbs (high-glycemic index foods).
- Keep your blood pressure and cholesterol under control.
- Use sunglasses outdoors to block UV and blue light that may cause eye damage.
- Have regular eye examinations.
Step One: Stop Smoking
Most likely the number one way to prevent AMD is to stop smoking cigarettes or not smoke in the first place. Think about findings from these research studies:
- Cigarette smokers are up to four times more likely than non-smokers to have macular degeneration, public health professionals at the University of Manchester said in a British Medical Journal report. In Great Britain, an approximated 53,900 people older than 69 have AMD credited to cigarette smoking. Of that number, 17,900 are lawfully blind.
- Another study from the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary showed that existing and past smokers had a 1.9- and 1.7-fold higher risk, respectively, of AMD compared to non-smokers.
Step Two: Eat Plenty Of Greens To Prevent AMD
Consuming plenty of dark, leafy greens might help with macular degeneration avoidance.
A research study published by scientists at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary reported that individuals who consumed the most veggies abundant in carotenoids (lutein and zeaxanthin) had a 43 percent lower risk of AMD than those who consumed these foods the least.
Carotenoid-rich vegetables include dark, leafy greens, especially raw spinach, kale and collard greens.
“In particular, a greater frequency of consumption of spinach or collard greens was associated with a considerably lower risk for AMD,” researchers stated.
The authors concluded that “intake of foods rich in certain carotenoids, in specific dark green, leafy veggies, may reduce the risk of establishing sophisticated or exudative (‘damp’) AMD, the most visually disabling type of macular degeneration among older people.”
Step Three: Take Multivitamins/Multiminerals
Taking minerals and vitamins through from a trusted source may be a smart idea for many reasons, consisting of general eye health.
Particularly for an older person, it may be tough to acquire all the nutrients you require from diet alone. Ask your doctor for suggestions about which supplements might work best for you based upon your specific health requirements.
Step Four: Consider An AREDS Nutritional Supplement
Two large clinical trials sponsored by the National Eye Institute (NEI) have actually recommended particular nutritional supplements can slow the progression of AMD among individuals with early and intermediate stages of macular degeneration.
AREDS1. The antioxidant vitamin formula used in the first AREDS research study included the following active ingredients:
- vitamin C – 500 mg
- vitamin E – 400 IU
- beta-carotene – 15 mg
- zinc – 80 mg (as zinc oxide)
- copper – 2 mg (as cupric oxide)
The outcomes of AREDS1, released in 2001, exposed patients at high risk of progressive AMD who took the daily antioxidant and zinc supplement had up to a 25 percent lowered risk of their macular degeneration progressing to a sophisticated stage (depending on the degree of AMD present at the start of the trial), compared to matched individuals who took a day-to-day placebo tablet.
Also read: Vitamin Supplement for Eyes
It must be kept in mind, though, that among study participants who had either no AMD or just early AMD, the supplement did not offer any apparent advantage. Also, the antioxidant formula in the study did not have any significant result on the development or progression of cataracts.
Still, since of the shown protective result of the supplement used in the AREDS1 study versus AMD development among high-risk patients, lots of pharmaceutical companies have established “AREDS formula” supplements offered as eye vitamins.
Popular AREDS-formula eye vitamins consist of I-Caps (Alcon), Ocuvite PreserVision (Bausch + Lomb) and MacularProtect Complete (ScienceBased Health). Variations of these products and eye vitamins from other manufacturers likewise might consist of lutein and zeaxanthin and/or omega-3 fats.
Given that the results of AREDS1 were released, researchers have discovered that supplements including beta-carotene, a vitamin A precursor, may increase the risk of lung cancer amongst smokers and previous cigarette smokers. (Eating foods consisting of beta-carotene, nevertheless, does not appear to cause a comparable risk, and may in fact be protective versus certain cancers.)
Due to these findings, many health experts are recommending smokers and previous smokers to avoid beta-carotene found in nutritional supplements.
AREDS2. Based on the favorable outcome of the original AREDS study, the NEI started a second round of clinical trials in 2006 — called AREDS2 — to see if the AREDS-formula supplement could be enhanced and offer included eye benefits.
AREDS2, a five-year study with more than 4,000 participants who had differing stages of AMD at the time of enrollment, assessed the impact of adding lutein (10 mg) and zeaxanthin (2 mg) and/or omega-3 fatty acids (350 mg DHA and 650 mg EPA) to the initial AREDS formula. These nutrients were selected since they have shown eye benefits in other research studies.
The AREDS2 scientists also examined the effect of removing beta-carotene and lowering the zinc dose of the original formula.
Outcomes of the AREDS2 research study were published in May 2013. The outcomes exposed that research study participants taking the customized AREDS formula with added lutein and zeaxanthin had a 10 to 25 percent decrease in the risk of AMD development. Those participants with the most affordable dietary consumption of foods consisting of these carotenoids experienced the greatest advantage.
Another important finding was that patients who were randomly designated to take the original AREDS formula containing 15 mg beta-carotene had a greater risk of lung cancer during the course of the AREDS2 study, compared with those who were arbitrarily designated to take the revised formula without beta-carotene. The majority of the participants who developed lung cancer during the research study were former smokers.
A finding that was a surprise to lots of eye care experts was that the addition of omega-3 fatty acids to the AREDS formula did not substantially decrease the risk of AMD advancing to sophisticated stages.
Based upon the AREDS2 results, the research study authors concluded that adding lutein and zeaxanthin to the initial AREDS formula and getting rid of beta-carotene from the supplement might increase its safety and efficiency in avoiding the development of macular degeneration among certain individuals with high risk of vision loss from AMD.
Step Five: Prevent AMD By Eating More Fish
Research also has shown the benefits of consuming fish for macular degeneration prevention:
- A study at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary showed that senior men with the highest levels of fish intake (more than two servings weekly) were 45 percent less most likely to have AMD than those who ate the least quantity of fish (less than one serving per week).
- Brian Chua and researchers at the University of Sydney demonstrated comparable findings. They examined 2,900 people aged 49 or older. Individuals who ate fish a minimum of once a week were 40 percent less most likely to have beginning-stage AMD establish than those who reported eating fish less than when a month or not at all. Those who ate fish at least three times weekly were less most likely to have late-stage AMD.
Step Six: Exercise Regularly And Maintain A Healthy Weight
Routine exercise lowers macular degeneration risk, inning accordance with a study in the British Journal of Ophthalmology.
In this study, 4,000 individuals ages 43 to 86 were kept track of for 15 years. After thinking about other risk factors such as weight, cholesterol levels and age, scientists found that people who led an active lifestyle were 70 percent less most likely to have AMD develop during the follow-up duration.
To be consisted of in the active group, individuals should have strolled at least two miles a day, three times weekly, or the equivalent.
Step Seven: Eat Fruit And Nuts Daily
Consuming fruits and nuts can help in reducing your risk of macular degeneration:
- A 2004 study at Harvard Medical School showed that individuals who consumed 3 or more servings of fruit daily had a considerably lower risk of “wet” or advanced AMD.
- Another study from the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary showed that eating nuts assisted deter progression of early or intermediate AMD to advanced stages.
Step Eight: Reduce Refined Carbs In Your Diet
Diets high in refined carbs increase the risk of AMD, which was validated in a research study released in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Highly refined foods have a high glycemic index, triggering a quick boost in blood glucose and insulin release.
Examples of refined carbohydrates consist of white bread, white rolls, baked spuds, donuts and pretzels. Low glycemic index foods consist of most fruits, brown rice, multi-grain and whole grain breads, apple juice and carrot juice.
Take care, however, when considering the glycemic index of foods. The glycemic index (GI) was developed in 1981 by researchers at the University of Toronto. It is a worth from 1 to 100 that indicates a food’s impact on an individual’s blood sugar level level, with a worth of 100 being comparable to the change brought on by the exact same quantity of pure glucose. A food with a high glycemic index increased blood sugar level more severely than foods with lower GI worths.
However glycemic index values do not consider the readily available carbohydrate (overall carb minus fiber) in a food, and does not show the real amount of carbohydrate in a typical serving of the food. So a food that may initially look like “bad” food since it has a high glycemic index might in reality be extremely healthful due to other parts (besides readily available carbohydrate) in the food and the real quantity of carbohydrate consumed in a common serving.
To avoid “good” foods seeming “bad” because of deceptive GI values, researchers at Harvard later came up with a procedure called the “glycemic load.” The glycemic load of a serving of food can be calculated as its carbohydrate content measured in grams (g), multiplied by the food’s glycemic index, and divided by 100. For one serving of a food, a glycemic load (GL) greater than 20 is considered high, a GL of 11-19 is thought about medium, and a GL of 10 or less is thought about low. Foods that have a low GL in a normal serving size usually have a low GI — however not always!
For instance, watermelon has a high glycemic index (72). So if we judged it by its glycemic index alone, we may think about watermelon a “bad” food that might increase your risk of macular degeneration. But watermelon contains a really high quantity of water, together with healthful vitamin C and lycopene (a compound that has actually been revealed to be useful for heart health), and the quantity of available carb in a piece of watermelon is quite low (only 5 percent, based upon weight) due to its high water material.
If you calculate the glycemic load of watermelon, these aspects result in it having a GL worth of only 3.6! So, as you might have thought even without all this mathematics, watermelon is a healthful food in spite of its high glycemic index. Eat as much as you want! And, when possible, consider the glycemic load (GL), not the glycemic index (GI), of foods you eat when evaluating your dietary risk factors for AMD.
Step Nine: Control Blood Pressure And Cholesterol
Some evidence suggests that controlling cholesterol can secure you from macular degeneration. Cholesterol is a fatty substance that can develop in blood vessels, inhibiting blood circulation necessary for preserving health of eye tissue.
Likewise, blood pressure control may be essential for macular degeneration prevention. Significant investigations including the Framingham Heart and Eye Studies and Beaver Dam Eye Study suggest a considerable link between hypertension and advancement of innovative, possibly blinding forms of macular degeneration.
See also: Macular Degeneration Treatments
Step Ten: Wear Sunglasses With UV & Blue Light Protection
Major studies show no conclusive evidence that too much exposure to the sun straight causes macular degeneration. But some findings suggest a minimum of an association between AMD and cumulative eye damage from overexposure to both UV and high energy visible (HEV) or “blue” light.
As an example, a recent significant research study discovered that individuals who consumed too couple of anti-oxidants, in mix with overexposure to blue light, were four times more likely to develop innovative or “damp” AMD. For this reason, it is a great idea to wear sunglasses that safeguard versus both UV and HEV light outdoors.
Step Eleven: Have Regular Eye Exams
Last but not least, have regular eye exams. The American Academy of Ophthalmology advises a dilated eye test a minimum of every two to three years if you’re between 45 and 60 and every year after the age of 60.
By following these actions, you’ll know you’ve done whatever you can to prevent AMD. But if you’re highly genetically inclined to develop macular degeneration, it still might establish and aggravate.
Routine eye tests can assist your optometrist detect AMD and monitor it so that you can get correct AMD treatment, if suitable, beyond these preventive steps.