Can Macular Degeneration be Prevented?

Macular Degeneration, the deterioration of a specific part of the retina, is a vision impairment often regarded as a part of aging. There are two forms of age-related macular degeneration: dry form, which is the result of a buildup in the retina, and wet-form, which is the result of abnormal blood vessels forming behind the retina and possibly leaking into the retina. While macular degeneration in unlikely to lead to total blindness, it may impair vision to the point of disability. With as troublesome as the prospect of this condition is, many wonder: Is there any way to prevent macular degeneration?

Maintaining one’s overall health may contribute to the prevention of macular degeneration. Obesity and smoking are both connected to a greater risk of developing macular degeneration. Maintaining a healthy weight and a non-smoking status are both important for many areas of a person’s health, and eye health is not an exception. Following a healthy diet, containing plenty of leafy greens, a daily mix of fruits and nuts, and low in refined carbohydrates is also shown to have positive effects on one’s overall health, including eye health. Regular eye exams are crucial. These exams may obviously help detect problems with the eyes themselves, but may also reveal early stages of other serious conditions, including high blood pressure and diabetes.

Vitamin supplements are often recommended for eye health. A significant study by the National Eye Institute of the National Institutes of Health titled “Age-Related Eye Disease Study” (commonly referred to as AREDS), has shown that Vitamin C, Vitamin E, beta-carotene, zinc, and copper may each play a role in decreasing the risk of vision loss. A second round of this study, AREDS2, showed that lutein and zeaxanthin may be more beneficial than beta-carotene. Many multivitamins specially formulated for eye health are created with the AREDS studies in mind, some even specifying “AREDS Formula” on the packaging.

Preventing damage from ultraviolet light rays is also crucial to eye health. Just as your skin needs sunblock for protection, yours eyes need sunglasses for protection. Sunglasses are not off the table for glasses wearers – for pretty low cost, one can purchase sunglasses that are designed to be worn over regular glasses or clip-on sunglasses. For a higher cost, one can have prescription strength sunglasses made. An extra bonus for glasses-wearers: a special coating can be put on your lenses to filter out the damaging blue light produced by television sets and computer screens.


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