Lifestyle Changes for Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Dry macular degeneration can’t be treated with medication or procedures. However, NYU Langone doctors can recommend healthy lifestyle changes that can benefit eye health, possibly helping to slow the progression of the dry form of this condition.

Heart Health

The risk factors for macular degeneration are similar to those of cardiovascular disease and stroke. For this reason, lifestyle changes that benefit your heart may also benefit your vision. Having high blood pressure, for instance, can increase your chances of developing macular degeneration, while maintaining a healthy blood pressure level can help decrease the risk.

Your doctor can suggest ways to lower blood pressure, including quitting smoking, managing stress, decreasing your salt intake, getting regular physical activity, and limiting alcohol consumption.

Smoking Cessation

Smokers are much more likely to develop macular degeneration than nonsmokers. If you smoke, NYU Langone’s Tobacco Cessation Programs can help you quit for good.

Nutrition

Healthy eating—which includes plenty of fruit, vegetables, and whole grains—can lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure, all of which can contribute to macular degeneration.

A diet high in dark leafy greens, orange and yellow peppers, and other vegetables may be beneficial in managing macular degeneration, because these foods contain carotenoids, or antioxidants, that keep the macula healthy. Eating plenty of fish, which is high in omega-3 fatty acids, is also thought to be helpful for eye health.

A nutritious diet can also help you maintain a healthy weight. Obesity, or having a body mass index of 30 or higher, may increase the risk of macular degeneration.

Exercise

Getting at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day can help you maintain a healthy weight and can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and high blood pressure.

Supplements

Studies have shown that taking a supplement containing high doses of antioxidants, vitamins, and zinc may slow the progression from dry to wet macular degeneration.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a special formula of vitamins and antioxidants, called the AREDS2 formulation, for the treatment of intermediate to advanced dry macular degeneration. It is named for the research study, Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2, that led to the formulation. AREDS2 can be purchased without a prescription at your local pharmacy or drugstore.

Sun Protection

Too much sun can damage the eyes. Wearing wide-brimmed hats that shade your eyes and sunglasses that have ultraviolet blocking lenses can help to protect your eyes from the effects of the sun.

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