Age related macular degeneration, or AMD, is a common eye condition and a leading cause of vision loss among Americans. Certain factors increase the risk of developing AMD, but healthy lifestyle choices can lower the risk.
Risk Factors of AMD
- Age — AMD is more likely to develop after the age of 50, but certain habits could cause it to develop earlier.
- Smoking — Studies show that people who smoke are twice as likely to develop AMD.
- Ethnicity — Caucasians are at a greater risk for developing AMD than African Americans or Latinos.
- Family history — There are at least 20 genes that can affect your risk for developing AMD, so family history is a significant risk factor. Currently, there are no genetic tests that can diagnose or predict AMD.
Engage in Healthy Habits to Prevent AMD
Just as there are steps you can take to prevent heart disease or diabetes, you can make healthy choices to reduce the risk or slow the progression of AMD through diet, physical activity and healthy habits.
Eat Healthy Foods to Help Lower AMD Risk
As a kid, you probably heard, “Eat your vegetables!” There is proof that eating more veggies really does protect our vision. Green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, bok choy, red leaf lettuce, collards, mustard greens and swiss chard provide vitamins A, C and K which are known to preserve vision. Eating more fish is another way to protect your eyesight. Fish like mackerel, tuna and salmon provide a powerhouse of omega-3 fatty acids that strengthen the macula.
Work Out Regularly to Avoid AMD
You probably do not need a reminder that exercise is good for your overall health, but it is also good for your eye health. Studies show that people who exercise have a lower risk of AMD than those who do not exercise. Physical activity does not have to be strenuous or expensive either. One ideal activity is walking because it is convenient, simple and low-impact.
If you are improving your diet and exercising regularly, you may not need to make a separate effort to improve your blood pressure or cholesterol levels. However, if nutrition and physical activity are not sufficient to normalize your levels, make an appointment with your doctor.
Quit Smoking and Cut AMD Risk by Half
Research shows that smoking doubles the risk of developing AMD. Along with harming your vision, smoking damages every system in the body. If you choose to quit smoking, you may need some help, so talk to your doctor, friends or family members for support.
Maintaining annual appointments to have your eyes examined is always the first line of defense against AMD. Make an appointment with your ophthalmologist for a checkup today.