All of us have one thing in common. As time passes, we age. Aging does have some benefits. For example, as the years march on we gain more experience and become a little more savvy and wise. Maybe your memory is not as sharp as it used to be, so you are experiencing those dreaded “senior moments.” Maybe you can’t hear as well as you used to, or have aches and pains.
If you are over the age of 40, you’ve probably experienced some vision problem or another, whether it’s near-sightedness, far-sightedness, “tired” eyes, watery eyes, or dry eyes. Many of these problems can be controlled with lenses or medication.
While the kinds of eye issues above are annoying and sometimes inconvenient, what concerns us more are those vision problems that are linked to blindness. For many of us, the idea of going blind is one of the most fearful things about aging. Not only does blindness mean we can’t see our loved ones, read a book, or watch television, it also diminishes our independence.
People who are blind can’t drive, do everyday chores around the home, and have difficulty doing self-care tasks such as getting dressed, grooming themselves, or making a meal. No wonder why the thought of going blind is so terrifying.
One leading cause of vision loss and blindness is Age-Related Macular Degeneration (ARMD) which affects your central vision. Central vision is your “straight ahead” vision, the kind of vision you need to read, drive, or do any kind of activity in which you need to focus in front of you. Macular degeneration does not affect your peripheral vision.
People who suffer from macular degeneration see black spots and wavy lines that obliterate or distort the objects in front of them. Age-related macular degeneration can deplete vision up to 60 percent, and is one of the more prevalent causes of age-related blindness. While we don’t know exactly what causes macular degeneration, we do know that poor blood supply to the eye, oxidization of the retina, and leaky capillaries can all contribute to this condition.
Unfortunately, age-related macular degeneration can’t be simply treated with eye drops or lenses. Because doctors aren’t sure what causes macular degeneration, there is no medically accepted cure. As a matter of fact, if you’ve already been diagnosed with macular degeneration, chances are your doctor has told you there’s nothing you can do, aside from learn to accept the idea that blindness is in your future.
However, you don’t have to accept the fact that you are going to go slowly but surely blind as a result of age-related macular degeneration. While there are no pills that you can take to slow or stop macular degeneration, while eye drops and special lenses won’t save your vision, there are things you can do to stop, slow down, and even reverse age-related macular degeneration. What’s more, as additional research is being done, more and more progressive eye specialists agree that there are steps you can take to maintain or restore your vision in a safe, natural way.
Ten Effective Steps to Prevent Macular Degeneration
If you want to delay, halt or even reverse macular degeneration, it will involve making new lifestyle choices. Stopping, slowing, and reversing your macular degeneration is as easy if you follow the following steps to prevent macular degeneration. These steps to prevent macular degeneration are safe and natural, and you have absolutely nothing to lose by trying them. Best of all, these healthy lifestyle choices will not only have a positive impact on your eyes, they will have a positive impact on your overall health in general.
Step no. 1: See Your Eye Doctor
Despite it being ther number one cause of partial blindness in North Americans, Macular degeneration isn’t commonly talked about, and many people don’t know what it is until they’ve been diagnosed with it. The first step to prevent macular degeneration is to see your eye doctor. Be sure to have your eyes checked annually, and ask your doctor to test you for macular degeneration.
In order to determine whether you have macular degeneration, your doctor will ask you to look at a tool called an “Amsler chart.” This chart is essentially a grid with a black dot in the middle. If, after focusing on the dot in the middle of the graph, you see shaky, uneven, or undulating lines, you are most likely experiencing the early stages of macular degeneration. Any dark spot of any shape in the center of the chart may indicate macular degeneration.
Your ophthalmologist will characterize your macular degeneration as either “wet” or “dry.” “Dry” macular degeneration is the less serious of the two types, and accounts for about 90 percent of all cases of macular degeneration. Unfortunately, there is no surgery, drug, eye drop, or lens that can treat “dry” macular degeneration. Severe “wet” macular degeneration can be treated with last-ditch efforts designed to preserve sight for an additional amount of time, but these treatments carry significant risk and offer no long-term solution.
Step no. 2: Take Stock of Prescription Drugs
Some experts believe that aspirin, Ibuprofen, and other NSAIDs can cause retinal hemorrhages in the blood vessels, which can then develop into macular degeneration. People with high blood pressure are particularly at risk for developing retinal blood vessel issues as a result of taking NSAIDs.
Other drugs that have a negative effect on the retina and may contribute to macular degeneration include Plaquenil and Cortisone. Talk to your doctor about replacement drugs if you take any of the above drugs.
Step no. 3: Protect Your Eyes from the Sun
UV-A and UV-B rays, as well as Blue Light, cause oxidization in the retina, which contributes to macular degeneration. Investing in a high-quality pair of sunglasses that filters out these dangerous rays, and wearing a hat with a brim, will protect your eyes.
Step no. 4: Add Vitamins, Minerals, and Supplements to Your Daily Diet
There are a wide variety of vitamins, minerals, and supplements known to contribute to eye health, including vitamins A, C, D, and E, omega 3 fatty acids, beta-carotene, magnesium, garlic, zeaxanthin and lutein, selenium, taurine, N-acetyl cysteine, zinc, hydrochloric acid, coenzyme Q-10, boron, chromium, copper, and manganese.
What’s the best place to find eye-healthy vitamins and minerals?
In your food. But to be sure you’re getting enough of what you need, it’s important to supplement with an eye specific multi-vitamin that includes the majority of the above vitamins, minerals, and trace elements required for healthy eyes and good vision.
Step no. 5: Up Your Antioxidants and Amino Acids
Lack of antioxidants in the diet can allow free radicals to multiply, causing more blocked capillaries in the retina. Be sure your diet contains plenty of vitamins C and E, quercetin, bilberry, selenium, bioflavonoids, beta-carotene, and ginko biloba. Plenty of amino acids in the form of N-Acetyl cysteine, L-glutathione, L-glutamine, and L-cysteine are also integral for eye health.
Step no. 6: Watch Your Fat and Cholesterol Intake
According to a study done by the University of Wisconsin Medical School, diets rich in unhealthy saturated fat increase macular degeneration by 80 percent. Stick to mono-unsaturated fats like olive oil, and eat healthfully by incorporating natural carbohydrates such as beans, grains, fruits, and vegetables. Avoid processed foods as much as possible.
Step no. 7: Eat Cold-Water Fish Three Times Per Week
Cold-water fish like trout, tuna, salmon, mackerel, cod, and sardines are some of the best sources of vitamins A and D available. In addition, they also contain omega 3 fatty acids, which are essential when it comes to controlling macular degeneration. Omega 3 acids decrease blood clotting, which helps the blood vessels in the retina to stay clear. If you don’t enjoy fish, you can take fish oil capsules instead.
Step no. 8: Go Organic
While supplements suffice, the best vitamins and minerals can be found in the food you eat. The freshest, best-quality vitamins and minerals will be found in organic food that is free of pesticides, sprays, and commercial fertilizers. Organic food is clearly labeled at your health food store or grocery store.
Step no. 9: Juice Your Food
Juicing your food allows you to get all the vitamins and minerals you need to stop, slow, or reverse macular degeneration without consuming mass quantities of food. Juicing also provides a terrific alternative to eating foods that you don’t like. Just about anything can be put in the juicer. Try different combinations and see what you like best!
Step No. 10: Get Plenty of Exercise
Chances are, you’re aware of all of the benefits of exercise. In addition to helping you remain fit and trim and making you feel great, exercise pumps blood through your body – including to your eyes. This blood supply carries oxygen and antioxidants to your eyes, which can slow, stop, and even reverse macular degeneration. Do exercise for at least thirty minutes everyday.
The above mentioned steps to prevent macular degeneration are based on years of research and experience by scientists and eye care workers. Use this information to improve the quality of your life in old age.