Macular degeneration is a chronic eye disease most often associated with aging. The macula is the tissue just inside the back of your eyeball — and if you have macular degeneration, it begins to slowly deteriorate thereby affecting your central vision.
While this disease doesn’t result in a complete loss of vision, your lifestyle may go through drastic changes. Such changes might include inability to drive a car because you have a blind spot in your vision which prevents you from seeing “the whole picture.”
Although aging is the main cause of macular degeneration, people who smoke, drink too much alcohol, are obese or have a family history of the disease are at higher risk for developing macular degeneration. Other risk factors include gender (women appear to be at greater risk than men) and high blood pressure.
What You Can Do To Help Yourself
Fortunately, there are some things you can do that will help you avoid or deal with macular degeneration.
- Get eye-screenings and exams on a regular basis – Getting regular eye exams is essential to detect macular degeneration. Get an exam every two to four years if you’re over 40 years old. If you’re over 60 get an exam every year.
- Practice good self care – If you’ve been diagnosed with macular degeneration, your doctor may ask you to check your vision at home using a method called “Amsler grid.” It’s an easy way to screen your vision and you can report any changes to your doctor.
- Diet – This one is important and is totally within your reach. After all, you’re in control of what and how much you eat. Make sure you consume plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. Include plenty of green leafy vegetables, as those are particularly high in antioxidants. Include foods rich in vitamins A (carrots, kale, romaine lettuce), C (papaya, oranges, broccoli, bell peppers) and E (nuts & seeds, wheat germ oil) as these may lower your chances of developing macular degeneration altogether.
- Lutein and Zeaxanthin – Foods that contain lutein and zeaxanthin are great for preventing vision problems. This includes corn, spinach and egg yolks. Fish and some types of nuts that contain Omega-3 fatty acids are also “eyesight” foods. If you don’t get enough of these vitamin rich foods in your diet, talk to your doctor about taking a supplement.
- Control cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure – If you take medication for these two diseases, be sure and take them regularly and as prescribed by your health care provider.
Living a healthy lifestyle is a good policy, no matter what disease you may have or be at risk for. And it’s never too late to stop bad habits such as smoking, over eating or drinking too much alcohol.
Developing healthy lifestyle habits will increase your chances of growing old without the devastating effects of diseases, such as macular degeneration, destroying your life.