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How can I prevent age related eye disease?

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September is Healthy Aging Month!

While vision loss is not a normal part of aging, older adults are at higher risk for certain eye diseases and conditions, including age-related macular degeneration, cataract, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, dry eye, and low vision.

Here are our top tips on early detection, and ways to prevent eye disease.

1. Get an eye exam.

Everyone over age 50 should have a comprehensive dilated eye examination. It is one of the best things you can do to protect your sight.

2. Don’t smoke.

Smoking is the single most controllable risk factor that contributes to the development of macular degeneration. Smoking causes vasoconstriction or narrowing of the blood vessels which reduces the blood supply to the eyes.

3. Eat a diet high in dark leafy greens.

A Harvard study done by Dr. Johanna Seddon in 1994 concluded that those who ate at least 5 servings of dark leafy greens per week had a 43% lower risk of developing AMD than those who ate small amounts or none at all. These lutein rich greens include kale, collard greens, spinach, Swiss chard, parsley, mustard greens, romaine lettuce and beet greens.

4. Get your Omega-3s.

Thanks again to Dr. Seddon and her researchers at Harvard University, they discovered that people with diets of a 3:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids have less macular degeneration. Almost all processed foods and vegetable oils contain omega-6 which means that the average American is out of balance. Because omega 6 competes with omega 3, if we have too much omega-6 then the omega-3 we do take isn’t utilized properly.

Some healthy foods high in Omega 3s are: walnuts, chia seeds, flax seeds, brussels sprouts, wild caught salmon, mackerel and sardines.

5. Get some exercise!

According to one recent study, physical activity may lessen glaucoma risk.

Published online in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, a new study suggests that meeting physical activity guidelines can reduce the risk of developing glaucoma by up to 40%!

Researchers found participants who met physical activity guidelines—150 minutes activity per week—had a 50% lower risk of glaucoma than those considered completely sedentary. Moreover, people with the highest cardiovascular fitness had a 40% lower glaucoma risk than those at the lowest fitness levels.

6. Did we mention exercise?

According to another study performed by the University of Wisconsin in 1988, those with an active lifestyle were 70% less likely to develop macular degeneration than those who did little or no exercise. The study tracked almost 4,000 men and women (between the ages of 43-86) over a 15 year period by conducting regular eye tests and recording levels of exercise.

Eye diseases often have no early symptoms, but can be detected during a comprehensive dilated eye exam. Contact us today for an appointment.

Eye HealthLaura Branstetter