Certain eye diseases such as macular degeneration are associated with aging. Macula is the tissue just inside the back of your eyeball — and if you have macular degeneration, it begins to slowly deteriorate, greatly 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 increasing age is the main cause of macular degeneration, people who smoke, drink alcohol in excess and those who are obese or have a family history of the disease means that you’re more at risk. Other risk factors are gender (women are at greater risk than men), high blood pressure, race and a lack of leafy, green vegetables in your diet.
There are lifestyle changes you can make that will help you avoid macular degeneration, including:
- 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 of age and if you’re over 60, get one every year.
If you’ve already been diagnosed with macular degeneration, your doctor will likely 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 – Foods containing antioxidants such as vegetables (leafy green vegetables are especially high in antioxidants) and those foods rich in vitamins A, C and E may lower your chances of developing macular degeneration.
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, 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 your health care provider prescribes.
Living a healthy lifestyle is a good idea no matter what disease you may have or be at risk for. Stopping bad habits such as smoking and too much alcohol consumption will increase your chances to grow old living a disease-free life and to keep devastating conditions such as macular degeneration from destroying your lifestyle.