Prevention of Age Related Macular Degeneration
Prevention of Age Related Macular Degeneration
Age Related Macular Degeneration is the main cause of irreversible vision loss among elderly people. They start to loss their central vision slowly overtime.
Till now there is no definite cure for age-related macular degeneration (AMD). There are multiple treatments of wet macular degeneration to stop the progression of the disease but so far for dry macular degeneration there is no treatment.
The first line in treatment of Age-Related Macular Degeneration is prevention and to do that, there are multiple measurements that can be done to reduce the risk of Macular Degeneration.
11 Tips to prevent macular degeneration
Here are 11 steps you can take to prevent or slow the progression of macular degeneration:
1. Quit Smoking
Smoking is the most important single preventable risk factor for macular degeneration. Smokers have at least three times the risk to develop macular degeneration and they have high risk of progression to advanced Macular degeneration when compare to non-smokers. Smoking can generate free radicals which can cause damages to retinal cells.
2. Eat plenty of dark leafy greens
Dark leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale are rich in zeaxanthin and lutein. These two ingredients exist in high concentration in the macula and they have powerful anti-oxidants that prevent retinal cells damage from free radicals. They also act as a filter to short wavelength lights such as UV lights. Human body can’t build these two ingredients; thus, they should be obtained by diets and supplements.
3- Healthy Food
Foods that are rich in Vitamin C, E and A are very important to prevent Macular degeneration. These vitamins have powerful antioxidants which can act against the toxic free radicals.
4. Vitamins for Macular Degeneration
Large scale clinical trial that is called AREDS showed that certain nutritional supplements can help to reduce the risk of progression of macular degeneration by 25%. These vitamins for macular degeneration have protective effect on retinal cells by preventing the damages caused by oxidative stress.
The AREDS 2 Supplements are:
- 500 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C.
- 400 international units of vitamin E.
- 10 mg lutein.
- 2 mg zeaxanthin.
- 80mg zinc as zinc oxide plus 2mg copper as cupric oxide (added because high levels of zinc can reduce the amount of copper in the body and to prevent anemia).
The dosages of these supplements are higher than the Dietary Reference Intake.
Important notes about AREDS 2 supplements:
- These supplements are not a cure or treatment of Macular degeneration but they help to reduce the risk of progression of early macular degeneration.
- There are no clinical evidences that these supplements will prevent the formation of macular degeneration.
5. Eat more fish
Fish has high concentration of omega 3 fatty acids which help in macular degeneration prevention. Omega-3 fatty acids especially Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) present in high concentration in the photoreceptor cells of the retina.
These fatty acids are very important to reduce inflammation of retinal cells. Studies showed that fish consumption can reduced the risk of Age-related macular degeneration by 20%.
6- Berry extracts
Berry extracts such as blueberry have powerful antioxidants which help to reduce the risk of macular degeneration. Berry extracts are rich in Anthocyanin which can absorb blue-green lights and filter UV lights and protect retinal cells from light stress oxidation.
7. Regular Exercise
Studies showed Geographic atrophy is higher in patients with high Body mass index (above 30 kg/m). Maintain a healthy and normal weight can protect against the disease. A study found that regular exercise of about 3-4 times a week can boost the immune system and prevent the formation of macular degeneration by 70%.
8. Cut foods with high refined carbohydrates
Foods with high refined carbohydrates such as baked potatoes, white bread and sugary drinks that can cause high glycemic index can increased risk of macular degeneration by 8%.
9. Control the blood pressure
Wet Macular degeneration is associated with high blood pressure so controlling the blood pressure especially the diastolic blood pressure can help to reduce the progression of wet macular degeneration.
Extended exposure to sunlight is associated with higher incidence of early macular degeneration. It is very important to wear sunglasses that block 100% of UVA and UVB lights and also filter out significant amount of blue light.
11- Fasting and Age-related macular degeneration
New studies showed one of the causes of macular degeneration is impairment of the clean-up mechanism (autophagy) of the lysosome which can cause the accumulation of harmful proteins that are toxic to retinal cells. Fating can boost the autophagy mechanism and it helps the lysosome to get rid of these harmful proteins.
12. Regular eye exams
Regular Eye exam is very important to detect early macular problem. Home self-examination with Amsler grid is also very important.