Did you know that macular degeneration is one of the leading causes of vision loss among seniors? Since it’s such a widespread problem, understanding the key risk factors of macular degeneration is crucial for protecting your vision. Here’s what to know so you can take note and lower your risk.

Smoking

When you consider the thousands of toxic chemicals that are contained within a single cigarette, it comes as no surprise that it’s a leading risk factor for many health conditions, including macular degeneration. Smokers, in general, are at a much greater risk of developing this and other serious eye conditions like cataracts, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy. The most significant change you can make to lower your risk is to quit smoking if you’re currently a smoker. If you’ve already noticed signs of macular degeneration, kicking the habit now can help to protect your eyesight in the long run.

Poor Diet

What you fuel your body with has a direct impact on your health, and any diet that’s high in junk or processed food will come with a higher risk of health problems – macular degeneration is one of them. This is especially a high-risk factor for those who not only consume large amounts of junk food, but also red meat. Since red meat is high in iron, it can elevate the level of iron to an excess amount, causing it to enter the retina and result in vision problems. It can also lead to blockages in the blood vessels, restricting the nourishment that’s needed to keep the retina healthy. Eating a diet that’s rich in vitamins, nutrients and minerals can drastically boost the health of your eyes. Specifically, consuming items that are high in lutein and zeaxanthin are very beneficial for your vision. Some foods to add to your meals include eggs, corn, kale, broccoli, spinach, squash, yellow peppers, grapes, kiwi, salmon and other omega-3 rich fish.

High Blood Pressure

As mentioned, blood vessels are essential for keeping your eyes and retina in good condition. Those who live with high blood pressure could eventually develop macular degeneration since this can narrow the vessels. Maintaining control of this chronic condition is important for minimizing the risk of damage to the blood vessels and eyes. If you have chronically high blood pressure, it’s important to take medications prescribed by your doctor to keep it under control. Mitigating your diet, getting in moderate exercise, and actively working to lower stress and inflammation are all important to do as well to prevent your blood pressure from being elevated.

Too Much Sun Exposure

If you’re outside spending long periods of time in the sun without proper eyewear or a hat, you could increase your risk of AMD. Looking up at the sun or placing your eyes under persistent strain with bright glaring environments can harm the retina as well. Before you head outside, always gear up with full-spectrum UV sunglasses and a wide brim hat, if you’re planning to spend a long time outdoors. Avoid looking at any bright glaring objects and never look directly at the sun. 

Eyes seem to be neglected more than most aspects of our health because we just don’t think about them until we notice an issue. But it’s important to have them examined by an ophthalmologist regularly to ensure they are in good condition. By doing this, your eye doctor can identify and diagnose any problems early and give you the necessary treatment to correct issues and restore your vision. If you can identify with any of these risk factors and are experiencing noticeable problems with your vision, don’t ignore it. Schedule an appointment for a comprehensive eye exam at any of our Laurier Optical locations today.