Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness. As the name entails, our vision begins to decline as a result of aging. Unfortunately, you can’t stop the aging process, but you can control other factors that can contribute to vision loss, which can slow down the progression of AMD.
Here are seven ways that you can protect your vision and slow down the progression of AMD so you don’t become one of the 2.1 million people worldwide affected by it.
Get regular eye exams: The longer AMD goes undiagnosed, the more it can progress and cause irreversible damage. If you go for regular eye examinations, then AMD can be caught early-on and interventions can take place. Vision decline can begin as early as 40 years of age, so hesitating to see an ophthalmologist can lead to irreversible damage.
Quit smoking: Several studies have found a link between smoking and a higher risk of AMD along with faster disease progression compared to non-smokers.
Eat a balanced diet: A balanced diet, including a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, fatty fish, and nuts may help reduce the risk of AMD.
Take the right vitamins: Taking the right vitamins to support your vision health is another good idea. But be mindful that not all vitamins are the same. It’s important that you do your homework, compare brands, and pick the one with the best ingredients in order to support healthy vision.
Exercise: Exercising three times a week may reduce your risk of developing AMD by 70 percent, according to research findings.
Take the Amsler Grid test: This simple test can be done daily. The use of this grid—which can be easily downloaded online—can help you detect changes in your vision. To use the grid, you hold it roughly 12 to 15 inches from your face. If you wear corrective lenses, make sure you have them on to complete this test. Now, cover one eye and look directly at the center dot of the grid. Try and notice if the surrounding lines on the grid appear straight or wavy, blurry, dark, or blank. Repeat this with your other eye as well to compare your vision. If you notice changes, speak to your eye specialist right away.
Know your family history: Having a close relative with AMD increases your risk of AMD by 50 percent. In this case, you may need more frequent eye exams to catch changes in your vision earlier.
A clinical spokesperson of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, Rahul N. Khurana, explained, “While new treatments and technologies are helping patients keep more of their vision than ever before, early detection remains your best defense against AMD. Get a baseline, comprehensive exam at age 40. After age 65, get an exam every one to two years, even if you have no symptoms. Your good vision depends on it.”