Various factors contribute to the risk of developing macular degeneration. Age is the most significant risk factor. AMD usually affects people over the age of 50, with the risk increasing with each decade after that. Genetics also plays a role. If you have a family history of AMD, your risk of developing the condition is higher.
Other risk factors include smoking, cardiovascular disease, and obesity. Cardiovascular disease and obesity, which are often associated with high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels, also increase the risk. But, what's interesting is that our diet and lifestyle choices can influence these risk factors.
Our diet and lifestyle choices can significantly influence the risk of macular degeneration. Research has revealed a strong link between nutritional intake and the development and progression of AMD. Certain nutrients, such as vitamins C and E, zinc, copper, lutein, and zeaxanthin, are beneficial for eye health and can help protect against AMD.
Similarly, lifestyle choices like regular physical activity can help maintain a healthy weight, reducing the risk of obesity and associated conditions like cardiovascular disease. Exercise also improves blood circulation, including to the eyes, and can help keep the macula healthy.
Quitting smoking is another critical lifestyle modification that can reduce the risk of AMD. As mentioned earlier, smokers have a higher risk of developing AMD. Therefore, quitting smoking can significantly decrease this risk.
What dietary changes can you make to reduce your risk of macular degeneration? Firstly, aim to include more fruits and vegetables in your diet, particularly those rich in antioxidants like vitamins C and E. These include citrus fruits, strawberries, bell peppers, broccoli, spinach, almonds, and sunflower seeds.
Ensure you're getting enough zinc and copper, which are necessary for eye health. You can get these minerals from foods like oysters, beef, poultry, beans, and nuts.
Also, try to include foods rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants found in high concentrations in the macula. These include leafy green vegetables, corn, eggs, and orange peppers.
When it comes to lifestyle changes, regular physical activity is key. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week. This can be anything from brisk walking to swimming to cycling.
Also, maintain a healthy weight. Obesity increases the risk of AMD, so keeping your weight within a healthy range can be beneficial.
Quitting smoking is another critical change. If you're a smoker, seek help to quit. Not only will it reduce your risk of AMD, but it will also benefit your overall health.
Diet and lifestyle choices can significantly influence the risk of macular degeneration. By making informed choices, such as consuming a diet rich in antioxidants and maintaining an active lifestyle, we can mitigate the risk of this debilitating eye disorder.
While there's no guarantee that these changes will prevent AMD, they can certainly help reduce the risk and even slow down the progression if you already have the condition. It's never too late to start making these changes.
To learn more about how diet and lifestyle choices influence macular degeneration risk, visit Dr. Wong & Associates at our office in Danbury, Connecticut. Please call or text (203) 748-3937 to book an appointment today.