As you age, your risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD) dramatically increases. Development can start in your 40’s, and increases with each decade. By 75, there’s a 1 in 3 chance of developing this progressive eye disease that can rob you of central vision.
What’s important to know is that AMD begins developing long before you have noticeable symptoms. At age 40, regular visits to your eye care provider are recommended, especially if there is a family history of AMD.
To optimize your chances of preserving your vision for as long as possible, you will want to understand the various risk factors, and what YOU can do to reduce them.
Some risk factors are out of your control, such as genetic predisposition. But there are MANY factors you CAN control.
First, there is a significant genetic component to AMD. If there is a family history of macular degeneration, you should know. Ask your older family members if they’ve been diagnosed with macular degeneration, and what type.
In addition to a genetic predisposition, many lifestyle factors increase your risk of developing macular degeneration. These include:
- Increased age 50+ (by age 75, 1 in 3 people are at risk)
- Sun exposure
- Obesity (BMI ≥30)
- Poor diet (higher fat intakes, higher dietary glycemic index, higher intake of processed foods, low intake of important nutrients such as omega 3’s, vitamins, carotenoids, etc.)
- Lack of exercise
What You Can Do
The list above is somewhat self-explanatory! While you cannot control your age, or family history of AMD, you can empower yourself by:
- Educating yourself about AMD
- Alerting your eye care provider to your family history if there is any
- Monitoring your vision using the Amsler Grid and other tools
- Adopting healthy and controllable lifestyle habits such as: quitting smoking, exercising, adopting an AMD Diet, controlling your weight, addressing hypertension, and wearing protective eyewear in the sun.
Here are some resources to get you started on taking care of your long-term vision.
- For more information about what macular degeneration is, start here.
- Here is a free, downloadable PDF of the Amsler Grid to monitor your vision.
- If you have already been diagnosed, OR if you are over 50 with a family history of AMD, you can get free copies of the KeepSight Journal to monitor your vision.
- Browse our free AMD Diet recipes here.
- Watch the Eat Right for Your Sight cooking show.