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Macular degeneration is an eye disorder that affects cells in the part of the eye called the retina, thereby causing changes in vision. In those with macular degeneration, images that usually appear clear and sharp often become blurred at first, and then as the disease progresses they can become distorted, enlarged, cloudy, dark or spotted.
People over 60 years old tend to have this eye disorder most often, macular degeneration is commonly referred to as age-related macular degeneration (AMD). There are two primary types of macular degeneration: wet and dry. The dry form is much more common, accounting for about 90 percent of all cases of macular degeneration. Dry macular degeneration proceeds the wet type, which is more severe and leads to worsened vision loss.
It’s been found that consuming dietary antioxidants, in addition to increasing levels through supplementation, can help slow down progression of macular degeneration. That’s because “oxidative injury” to the eyes (also called free radical damage or oxidative stress) plays a significant role in degeneration of cells and nerves in the retina/macula.
Anti-inflammatory foods that help prevent or manage symptoms of macular degeneration include: Colored orange, yellow vegetables like squash, carrots, sweet potatoes, peppers, berries and citrus fruits, Dark leafy greens like spinach, kale or collards, blueberries and cherries and High-fiber foods are especially beneficial to prevent macular degeneration.
Supplements can also help to protect the eyes. A supplemental combination of antioxidants, including vitamin C and E, taken with zinc and omega-3s can slow progression of AMD.
Smoking has been found to be one of the most damaging habits someone can have due to its rapid age-accelerating effects. Cigarettes contain dozens of toxic chemicals that have been shown to raise inflammation levels, damage healthy tissue and cells, and contribute to nerve damage and vision loss. Avoiding smoking is one of the most beneficial things you can do to protect your vision — and it’s even better that you don’t start to begin with!
In addition to reducing inflammation with a healthy diet, exercising regularly even into older age is an important tool for longevity. Exercise might help you maintain a healthy weight, helps normalize blood sugar and blood pressure levels, has anti-inflammatory effects, and more.
Cardiovascular disease and diabetes is one of the leading risk factors for eye disorders, including macular degeneration. Cardiovascular disease is usually a sign that inflammation levels are high and also sometimes that blood pressure levels are not within a normal range. 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.
Although sunlight in moderate amounts has its benefits (such as supplying us with immunoprotective vitamin D), too much can cause damage to the eyes. If you spend lots of time outdoors in direct sunlight, help protect your eyes from overexposure to UV rays by wearing sunglasses and a hat. Try not to stare directly into the sun, especially during peak times of day when the sun is strongest between about 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. If you work on the computer for hours every day or use electronic devices often, give your eyes a rest about every 20 minutes to lower eyestrain and consider avoiding blue-light devices close to bed time.