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Macular degeneration (also known as age-related macular degeneration or AMD) is one of the most prevalent causes of vision loss and impairment in senior citizens. In AMD, the macula (the central part of the retina) breaks down and deteriorates. The resultant vision loss is almost never complete, but can be severe, and is usually focused in the center of the field of vision, making it incredibly difficult to see or focus clearly.

Because macular degeneration is so widespread, many view it as an inevitability, and don’t see any value in taking preventative measures against the condition. However, with modern eye-care techniques and a growing understanding of the causes of AMD, we know that these measures are, in fact, highly valuable and effective.

1. EAT YOUR GREENS

In 1994, researchers at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary published some interesting findings in the Journal of the American Medical Association. They found that people who consumed more dark leafy greens and other fruits and vegetables rich in carotenoids were 43 percent less likely to develop AMD than those who did not.

Just by increasing your daily intake of dark leafy greens and vegetables, you can decrease your chances of developing age-related macular degeneration by nearly half.

2. QUIT SMOKING

Fewer Americans are smoking these days, but if you’re still struggling with this addiction, AMD might be the push you need to quit. According to experts at the University of Manchester, smokers are four times more likely to develop AMD than non-smokers. With numbers like that, it won’t matter how many leafy greens you eat. If you’re lighting up after dinner, you’re increasing your chances of developing AMD.

3. TAKE EYE-FRIENDLY SUPPLEMENTS

According to Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS), which is sponsored by the National Eye Institute, certain nutritional supplements can significantly improve your chances for having healthy eyes well into your years. Taking these supplements has been shown to not only help prevent AMD, but also to help slow the progress of vision impairment in cases of early and intermediate AMD.

Which supplements should you be taking to protect your vision? According to AREDS, you should be consuming the following on a daily basis:

  • 400 IU vitamin E
  • 500 mg vitamin C
  • 80 mg zinc oxide
  • 15 mg beta carotene
  • 2 mg copper (cupric oxide)

You can find these vitamins and minerals in many over-the-counter multivitamins, and you can ask your ophthalmologist for more recommendations on eye-friendly supplements and vitamins.

4. SEE YOUR OPHTHALMOLOGIST REGULARLY

Finally, make an appointment with your ophthalmologist for a full eye exam at least once every two years. If you’re concerned about AMD, or you are at an elevated risk for developing vision impairment, see your ophthalmologist more frequently about once per year.

While eye exams don’t prevent macular degeneration, they do help your eye doctor detect early warning signs. With early diagnosis, you can significantly decrease your chances of serious vision impairment due to AMD. If you haven’t seen your ophthalmologist lately, make an appointment today and ask about what you can do to prevent macular degeneration as you get older.

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