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How Can I Reduce my Risk of Developing Macular Degeneration?

by Jamie Peters

This is the 4th and final article in the series dedicated to the 2017 National Macular Degeneration month. Read on to learn how you can reduce your risk of developing macular degeneration.

Actions that will Reduce your Risk of Developing AMD

As we mentioned in our previous article, there are risk factors for macular degeneration (AMD) that you cannot control (aging, race and genetics) as well as “eye-risky” behaviors that you can control. The following are eye-risky behaviors that your eye doctors in La Mesa recommend for you:

  • Quit Smoking: Get some help, most people can’t do this on their own. If you have tried to quit in the past and it didn’t work, try again, there is a method out there with your name on it. You should also talk to your doctor because there are some really great medications that reduce your desire to smoke. If you have tried one and it made you feel weird, try a different one. There is also hypnosis, behavioral therapy, the patch or gum, and recognizing your triggers. The American Cancer and American Heart Associations have staff ready to help you.
  • Don’t start smoking:  There are other ways to control your anxiety or urge to eat than developing this bad habit.
  • Regular eye exams:  There are small deposits that can occur in your macula called “drusen”. They can only be discovered during an eye exam and are seen best with retinal photos. They signal that AMD is most likely in your future. If you only have an exam every 3 years, you have allowed the drusen to advance while you procrastinated. It is much easier to slow drusen and early AMD when it is detected early on.
  • Change your diet: Cut your red meat and fats down by half.  Eat cooked greens (spinach, kale, chard), dark berries, tomatos, red and orange peppers, mangos, avocados, fish, red and black grapes, cherries, pumpkin, cantaloupe, dark cabbage, oranges, and broccoli.
  • Lose some weight if you’re overweight: Try joining Weight Watchers, they have a great program that really works.
  • Exercise: Make an appointment with yourself to exercise at-least 3 times a week.  Start slowly so you don’t injure yourself but increase your time and speed day by day.
  • Eye protection:  Wear a visor or hat and high-quality sunglasses when outdoors, even on cloudy days.  Our ozone layer around the earth has thinned, so we are getting far more UV exposure than in the past. Inexpensive sunglasses have no quality control. Some of them are simply dark lenses but don’t have a UV absorber. How can you tell the difference? If the absorber got left out, you are actually increasing your risk because the dark lens causes your pupil to enlarge and let in even more UV.
  • Control your high blood pressure:  Put your pills by your toothbrush to help you remember. If you take a lot of pills, buy a pill organizer and load them up once a week. That will make it easier to remember. Losing weight and exercise will also help lower blood pressure.
  • Supplements: If you have been diagnosed with drusen (an early sign) or have early AMD, strongly consider an ocular nutraceutical. Not the ones you see advertised on TV; ask your doctor because there are better ones. I’ve heard people say, “they are too expensive”. Skip going out to dinner one time each month, the money you save will cover the cost of a supplement!

We hope you learned something from our 4 blog series in honor of National Macular Degeneration month. If you haven’t read the previous AMD articles, we covered what is the macula, what is macular degeneration, are you at risk and how to prevent or slow the disease.

It is time to take control of your vision; make an appointment for an eye exam today! Call us at (619) 461-4913 or submit an appointment request form while you are here on our website.

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