Nearly 22 million Americans are expected to suffer from macular degeneration by 2050. Globally, a massive 288 million people might be living with the condition by 2040. It is believed that circulatory insufficiency reduces the amount of blood flow to the retina, leading to a loss of the central field of vision, according to an article by the World Health Organization (WHO). Macular degeneration is one of the leading causes of blindness among adults, after cataracts and glaucoma. Therefore, immediate measures, in the form of palliative care and rehabilitation, are crucial.
However, there also are proven ways to prevent the disorder from setting in. Ophthalmologists recommend a host of lifestyle changes for sharp and clear vision in people aged 60 and above.
Here are a few steps to help take better control of your eye health:
Get regular eye checks
Dry and wet degeneration are the two types of eye-related disorders where the macula becomes thinner in parts and the vision becomes blurry due to abnormal blood vessel growth, respectively. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) usually does not show any early symptoms. However, whether you notice vision changes or not, make sure to go for regular eye screenings once you reach the age of 40. Continue the test every one or two years to ensure early intervention for any degenerative condition.
Protect your eyes
The right sunglasses can protect your eyes against harmful UV, UVB and HEV rays. Look for eyewear with special lens coating like Uvex UV400, designed to block 100% radiation. This will prevent the outer tissues and cornea from absorbing the dangerous sunrays, which can penetrate deeper, causing thermal damage.
Even a few puffs can increase the chances of deteriorating eye health after the age of 65–70. Smokers are 3–4 times more likely to develop AMD than non-smokers, so consider nicotine replacement therapy to protect your vision, according to an article by the New York State Department of Health. Start cutting down on the number of cigarettes you smoke per day. Otherwise, free molecules will lead to cellular damage and prevent nutrients from reaching the retina.
Be consistent with medication
Maintaining your blood pressure, cholesterol and general heart health is crucial. This will safeguard you against retinopathy and degeneration by allowing sufficient blood supply. If not, you might start experiencing swelling and blood clots, which could damage your eyes permanently. So, if you are on medication for any underlying health issues, set reminders to consume the drugs regularly.
Maintain healthy weight
Including cardio and aerobic exercises in your daily schedule can help stabilize your weight. A healthy level of fat prevents hypertension, which could restrict blood flow to the eyes. Being obese or overweight can impact eye health, leading to retinal vein occlusion and floppy eyelid syndrome, besides age-related macular degeneration.
Consider eating leafy greens and whole grains, taking multivitamins and consulting eye doctors in case of any discomfort. Also, it is advisable to know your family history to become more alert towards potential symptoms. Lastly, try using an Amsler grid to monitor the central part of your vision.
Adam Mulligan, a psychology graduate from the University of Hertfordshire, has a keen interest in the fields of mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.