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What You Can Do Now to Combat Macular Degeneration As You Age

As you age your risk for macular degeneration increases. In fact, about 14 million Americans have the disease right now. While no one knows exactly what causes this condition, our team at Ventura Eye Institute wants to help you decrease your chances of developing macular degeneration. 

Living with macular degeneration is difficult, but it’s not hard to take preventative steps to reduce your risk of developing the condition later on. 

What is macular degeneration?

Macular degeneration is a condition that impacts your ability to see clearly. With macular degeneration, the macula, the most sensitive part of the retina, deteriorates. 

The macula is the central area that helps your eyes see clearly. When it deteriorates, so does your vision. 

Because macular degeneration relates to age, it's frequently called age-related macular degeneration (AMD). In fact, it’s the leading cause of vision loss in people aged 50 and over

As macular degeneration progresses, your ability to recognize faces, watch TV, drive, read or complete any task that requires sharp vision will decline. Although people rarely go completely blind from macular degeneration, the condition is a significant visual disability. 

There are two types of macular degeneration: atrophic (dry) and exudative (wet). Most people (85-90%) have dry macular degeneration, though it can lead to wet macular degeneration. 

Dry macular degeneration is caused by an accumulation of yellow deposits called drusen in the macula. At first, this leads to blind spots in the center of your vision and eventually leads to the loss of central vision. 

Wet macular degeneration impacts about 10-15% of those diagnosed with the disease and occurs when irregular blood vessels grow under the retina. This leads to distorted vision that makes straight lines appear wavy, causes blind spots, and permanent loss of central vision.

Currently, no cure exists for macular degeneration. This makes taking preventative measures so important.

Who is at risk for developing macular degeneration?

Macular degeneration and age are highly related. So if you’re over age 50, you have a higher chance of developing it. 

Researchers have found other risk factors for macular degeneration. These include:

If you’re over 50 and notice vision changes, it’s important to visit your eye doctor at Ventura Eye Institute to see if macular degeneration is the cause. 

What can I do to prevent macular degeneration?

While there’s no cure, you can take steps to prevent your chances of developing macular degeneration. Here are some eye-friendly ways to help your vision stay healthy:

1. Stay at a healthy weight and exercise

A 15-year study found that people with an active lifestyle developed macular degeneration 70% less frequently. It's crucial you not only watch what you eat, but make time for exercise.

2. Keep an eye on health conditions

Recent studies show that keeping your cholesterol in check can protect against macular degeneration. Reduce your intake of foods with cholesterol, like eggs, dairy, and meat to keep your cholesterol under control.

Maintaining healthy blood pressure also plays an important role in macular degeneration prevention. Large-scale research discovered a significant link between the development of advanced and blinding forms of macular degeneration and high blood pressure.

3. Avoid smoking

Smokers are up to four times more likely than non-smokers to have macular degeneration. So if you’re a smoker, the best way to reduce your risk of macular degeneration is to quit. 

4. Wear sunglasses when outdoors

The sun may feel good on your face, but the harmful UV rays can cause eye damage. When outdoors, wear large sunglasses that block 100% of UV rays.

5. Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet

If you aren’t watching what you eat, start now. Diets low in plant-based foods and high in saturated fat increase your risk of macular degeneration. 

Eat lots of dark, leafy greens and vegetables, fruit, and nuts. These foods are rich in carotenoids and omega-3 fatty acids, which combats macular degeneration. Two servings of fish per week are also associated with a lowered risk for the condition. 

6. See an eye doctor regularly

Even if you don’t wear prescription lenses, it’s important for your health to see an eye doctor regularly. If you’re over age 50 and have noticed a decline in your vision, the providers at Ventura Eye Institute can determine if you have macular degeneration and design a treatment plan.

If you want to learn more about preventing macular degeneration, our caring team can help. Schedule an appointment by contacting our Camarillo, CA office online today.

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