What you should know about macular degeneration
Being New Zealand’s leading cause of blindness, macular degeneration is a painless progression of vision loss. As an age-related eye disease, it’s most common for those over the age of 50.
Like many eyesight problems, caring for your eye health daily and leading a balanced lifestyle can be the key to prevention.
To help you look after your eye health and prevent macular degeneration as best you can, I explain the common risk factors and share helpful tips for prevention.
What is macular degeneration?
The macular is the centre part of the retina, and is responsible for controlling your detailed central vision. You use this part of your vision doing daily activities that require fine focus, like reading, driving, and recognising faces.
When macular degeneration occurs, all these activities are severely impacted.
While early stages of macular degeneration are easy to detect, they can be completely painless. That’s why it’s important to get an eye check whenever you start to notice any eyesight problems.
However, there are easy ways to look after your eyes and stop the development of macular degeneration from happening at all. Get familiar with what puts you at risk, and how to reduce the possibility of developing it.
With good health practice, macular degeneration can be prevented
Common risk factors
- Age: Being an age related eye disease, macular degeneration mainly affects those over 50. About 1 in 7 New Zealanders above the age of 50 are affected, and it is predicted to increase by 70% by 2030. The older you get the more susceptible you become, but it doesn’t mean you can’t start caring for it now.
- Genetics: About 70% of macular degeneration cases have a genetic link. Take care of your family, and inform them if you are diagnosed. It would pay to get tested if you are aware of family members who also have been affected.
- Smoking is a significant risk factor for developing macular degeneration. People who regularly smoke are about 3 times more likely to develop it. They can even get diagnosed with macular degeneration 5-10 years earlier than non-smokers.
How to practice good health to prevent macular degeneration
Although factors like family background are beyond your control, there are other lifestyle choices you can make to maintain good macular health.
Keeping these things in mind on a daily basis can not only prevent macular degeneration and other age related eye diseases, but also help you live a whole and happy lifestyle.
Eat a balanced, healthy diet
A well-balanced diet is integral in leading a healthy life, but it also plays an important role in caring for your macular health.
Eating 3 nutritional meals a day is good general practice, and the easiest way to get the right nutrients into your body. Take extra notice of these foods that particularly target your macular health.
Research has found that eating fish is beneficial to reduce the risk of developing macular degeneration. Fresh, and so easily accessible in New Zealand, fish is a great option to consider making a regular part of your diet.
It is recommended to eat 2-3 portions a week in order to get the right amount of nutrients to help prevent eye conditions developing.
Dark, leafy vegetables
Lutein and Zeaxanthin are nutrients that are abundantly found in healthy macular, so they’re very important for maintaining good macular health.
Dark and leafy vegetables like kale, spinach and silverbeet especially target your eyes because they contain large amounts of these nutrients.
Make sure you’re getting a decent portion of veggies in your every meal – it’s cheap, easy, and the simplest way to take care of your body.
Our bodies don’t produce Omega 3 or Lutein, and since they’re crucial to our eye health it’s important that we get them into our system.
If you don’t have enough foods that contain these nutrients in your diet, like greens or fish, you might want to consider taking them as a daily supplement. This way, you’ll get all the nutrients you need for good eye health and preventing any eye conditions from developing.
Omega 3 and Lutein can both be taken as a supplement. Feel free to ask us about the best supplements for eye health.
Lifestyle choices to better your health
Quitting smoking would have many positive impacts on the quality of your life, and increased macular health is one of them. It can decrease your chances of developing macular degeneration significantly, and could potentially turn your life around.
If you’re thinking about quitting, here are some resources to help you out.
Regular exercise is a great way to take care of your health, and its benefits reach far beyond just your weight.
Studies have shown that adults who regularly exercise are less likely to develop macular degeneration. It’s recommended to work out at least 2 – 3 times a week, and you can always make the experience social and more fun, by joining a class.
Caring for your eyes in the long term
Macular degeneration affects many New Zealanders, but caring for your eye health can start now, no matter your age.
Leading a balanced and healthy lifestyle is the best thing you can do to look after your eyes, and it’s worthwhile maintaining daily. If you ever find yourself encountering eyesight problems, don’t hesitate to book an appointment to see us.
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