Managing Dry AMD: Tips for Enhancing Vision and Slowing Progression
Did you know that there is a wide range of things that you can do to preserve your vision and potentially slow the progression of dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD)? Of course, it's essential to consult with a retina specialist for personalized treatment and planning, but keeping these tips in mind can help you in the long run. Here are some helpful hints on lifestyle changes that may lend themselves to vision enhancement and slowing the progression of dry AMD.
Managing Controllable AMD Risk Factors
Although many risk factors, such as a family history of AMD, age, and race are uncontrollable, there are some risks you can avoid, including:
- A poor diet
- Being physically inactive
- Being overweight
Eating a healthy diet is an important lifestyle factor in helping to slow the progression of AMD. A 2020 study linked the Mediterranean diet with preventing and/or delaying the progression of AMD. Foods on the Mediterranean Diet that support eye health include those high in antioxidants, such as a variety of bright-colored fruits and leafy green vegetables. Other foods that comprise the diet include wild-caught cold-water fish, nuts, legumes, skinless poultry, low-fat dairy, and limited red meat consumption. Olive oil is favored for cooking and food prep instead of butter, and low to moderate amounts of red wine are allowed.
The National Eye Institute reports that exercise can “slow or prevent the development of macular degeneration and may benefit other common causes of vision loss, such as glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy.”
Choroidal neovascularization (i.e., excessive growth of abnormal blood vessels in the eye) is a cardinal sign of wet AMD. An animal study showed that exercise helped reduce the overgrowth of these abnormal blood vessels which commonly occur in AMD and in several other eye disorders. Some experts recommend at least three to four hours per week of low to moderate aerobic activity to support eye health; examples of this type of exercise include:
- Fast walking
- Water aerobics
Address Underlying Health Conditions
Managing underlying health conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol levels, can help maintain eye health and prevent vision complications. AMD and diabetic retinopathy have similar features and risk factors. Despite the need for further research, growing evidence suggests that patients with diabetes may have a higher risk of AMD. High blood pressure causes the retinal blood vessels to narrow and thicken, reducing blood flow. High blood pressure can also cause swelling of the retina and optic nerve, resulting in vision loss.
Protect Your Eyes from the Sun
Long-term exposure to UV light ages the eye's structures, possibly contributing to corneal damage, cataracts, and macular degeneration. To protect your vision from these harmful UV rays, experts recommend wearing sunglasses that block 100% of UVB and UVA rays whenever outside, including on cloudy or overcast days.
Take AREDS Supplements
If you have intermediate AMD in one or both eyes, special dietary supplements called AREDS supplements may be able to slow down the disease’s progression into late AMD. The supplements are based on a study called the Age-Related Eye Disease Study. If you have late AMD in one eye, AREDS supplements may help lower the risk of AMD in your other eye.
AREDS supplements provide the daily recommended amount of certain vitamins and minerals found in studies to promote eye health, such as:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
However, AREDS supplements aren’t beneficial for everyone, so it’s crucial to speak with a retina specialist before starting a new regimen.
Get Regular Eye Exams in New York
Keep in mind that lifestyle changes are not meant to substitute for professional medical advice. For guidance on managing dry AMD, always consult your eye care specialist. Regular eye exams should be scheduled at least once a year or as recommended by your retina specialist. AMD can be managed effectively and your vision saved by early detection and intervention. Contact Vitreoretinal Consultants of NY today to schedule an appointment with our top-rated retina specialists at one of our New York retina center locations.