Itís estimated that 10 to 11 million Americans have age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which can cause severe, irreversible vision changes. Globally, macular degeneration is the leading cause of permanent vision loss in adults over 60. Risk factors other than age include smoking, poor diet or nutrient deficiencies and diabetes. In addition to vision loss, macular degeneration symptoms can include spotty vision, color changes and difficulty reading.
Macular degeneration forms due to inflammation and damage of the tissues and nerves in the eyes. Doctors usually look for changes in retina cell function as an early sign that macular degeneration is developing.
Experts state that both genetics and environmental or lifestyle factors play major roles in the development of AMD. Currently, there is no cure, only ways to help prevent the disease from occurring in the first place or help manage damage that has already occurred.
Here are 5 natural ways to limit your risk or delay progression of AMD:
1. Consume a high-antioxidant diet. Free radical damage or oxidative stress plays a significant role in degeneration of retina cells, so consume foods high in antioxidants. Eat brightly colored orange and yellow vegetables like squash, carrots, sweet potatoes and peppers that are rich in carotenoids. Berries, cherries and dark, leafy greens also supply important nutrients. Eating a rainbow of fruits and vegetables is anti-inflammatory and has anti-aging effects by providing essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Use high-quality, whole-food vitamin and mineral supplements if you are not getting the nutrients in your diet.
2. Exercise to maintain or achieve a healthy weight. Besides weight control, exercise helps normalize blood sugar and blood pressure levels and has anti-inflammatory effects.
3. Quit smoking. Cigarette smoking is one of the single most damaging habits for your vision. It accelerates aging by raising inflammation levels and damaging tissues, cells and nerves.
4. Prevent or control metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease. Diabetes and heart disease are leading risk factors for eye disorders. High inflammation levels and blood pressure lead to more oxidative stress and eye damage. A healthy diet, regular physical activity, drinking enough water, reducing stress and getting enough sleep are all beneficial for regulating blood pressure, normalizing blood sugar levels to prevent nerve damage and supporting heart health.
5. Protect eyes from too much light exposure. A moderate amount of sunlight has benefits, but too much can cause oxidative damage to the eyes. Prevent overexposure to UV rays by wearing sunglasses when out in direct sun. Blue light from electronic devices can also be damaging, so take frequent breaks or use a device to block blue light exposure.
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