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Patient Education

4 Suggestions to Reduce Your Risk of Macular Degeneration

People often ask, "What can I do to reduce my risk of getting macular degeneration?" Or they may ask, "Is there anything I can do to slow the progression of my macular degeneration?" The answer is, "There are some things that can be done to help minimize the risk of getting macular degeneration, and possibly of slowing its progression in some cases." Listed below are four suggestions:

1. Smoking. Never, never, never smoke. And if you do smoke, stop immediately. Some studies reveal that smoking triples the rate of macular degeneration (AMD). One study recently revealed that persons who smoke may have six times the rate of macular degeneration. The best thing you can do is to not smoke, and the best thing you can tell your grandchildren to possibly avoid AMD is to never smoke.

2. Good nutrition. Eat fruits and vegetables the color of the traffic light—dark green, yellow, and red. Also, eat fish at least once a week. Studies by the National Eye Institute (NEI) revealed that vitamin supplements with zinc and beta carotene may reduce macular degeneration for some patients. Many eye doctors also recommend vitamin supplements with lutein and xeozanthin.

3. Wear sunglasses. Specifically, try to wear ones that are amber (brown), orange, a combination amber/orange (my favorite), plum, or yellow. These colors will not only block out harmful ultraviolet (UV) light, but will also block out all or most of the "blue light," which some research reveals may be linked to macular degeneration. A blue eyed person is much more susceptible to damage from "blue light," since they do not have the substance "melanin" to block out blue light. Tell your children and grandchildren to also wear sunglasses, and preferably in these colors. (Gray colored sunglasses do not block out blue light, and may also actually reduce contrast, which is very important for a person with low vision.)

4. Get high blood pressure and high cholesterol under control. These may also be linked to macular degeneration.

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