Want to maintain good vision as you grow older? Here are some recommendations that might interest you.

The most common type of degenerative change within our eyes that occurs as we get older is called macular degeneration (AMD). It is a major cause of vision impairment among the aging population, affecting one in four people ages 65 and older. AMD occurs as the middle of the back of the eye, or your retina, degenerates with age resulting in you having difficulty in seeing, especially at night.

Luckily, there are actions that may help prevent these changes from occurring. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD), Preventing degenerative changes from occurring within our bodies is a science called Anti-Aging. It is common knowledge that we should embrace a healthy lifestyle to improve our health, but did you know that such a lifestyle can also improve your vision?

A recent study by Julie A. Mares, from the University of Wisconsin (Wisconsin, USA), and colleagues wanted to investigate the relationships between lifestyle behaviors of diet, smoking, and physical activity and the subsequent prevalence of age-related macular degeneration (1). They confirmed the relationships between lifestyle behaviors of diet, smoking, and physical activity and the subsequent prevalence of AMD. The team analyzed data from the Carotenoids in Age-Related Eye Disease Study (CAREDS), an ancillary study associated with the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI), involving 1,313 women, ages 55 to 74 years, at the study’s start that aimed to assess the role of carotenoid compounds in age-related eye diseases.

Here’s what they found. Compared with sedentary smokers who ate lots of fatty processed foods, participants in study who engaged in healthy lifestyle habits ”“ including regular exercise, healthy diet, and not smoking ”“ were found to have a 71% decreased risk of developing AMD. The study was for 6 years of the study and special photographs were taken of the subjects retinas to assess the presence and severity of AMD. They found that embracing this healthy lifestyle resulted in a 3-fold lowers risk for advanced AMD in a person’s lifetime.

This is good news for you and for everyone. Moreover, the social and economic costs of AMD to society are huge, and taking action to improve your health can improve your quality of life and reduce future costs of healthcare you would need if you developed AMD. So, eat right and exercise a lot!

Some of the best foods for this are dark green leafy vegetables, which have been shown to reduce the risk of AMD by 43%. These are vegetables rich in the amino acids of Lutein and Zeaxanthin. Some examples include spinach, mustard greens, kale, broccoli, parsley, celery, green peas, and brussels sprouts. Orange colored vegetables also have many nutrients that may help, and these include pumpkin, squash, carrots, yams, and corn.

But there is something else you can do easily to help you decrease the risk of you developing AMD, and it also helps your heart. We have all heard about the heart benefits of omega fatty acids, but many have not heard that these same omega 3 fatty acids also help decrease AMD.

High concentrations of omega-3s have been found in the eye’s retina, and evidence is mounting that this nutrient may be essential to eye health. A recent study by Sheila K. West from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine (Maryland, USA), and colleagues engaged 2520 Maryland residents, ages 65 to 84 years, to participate in a study assessing the role of a diet rich in fish and seafood, on AMD onset and progression. The team studied 1,942 subjects for fish and shellfish consumption over a one-year period, and assessed participants for AMD.

They found that participants who had advanced AMD were significantly less likely to consume high omega-3 fish and seafood than those who did. They concluded that: “These data support a protective effect of fish/shellfish intake against advanced AMD.” (2)

If you have a difficult time in eating adequate amounts of fish every day, perhaps you might want to consider taking an Omega 3 supplement. The recommended amount to help decrease heart disease and to decrease AMD is over 950 mg a day of DHA and EPA free fatty acids (which are the biological effective forms of the omegas). There are many available, but make sure you get a high quality brand. If you’re uncertain about this, stop by our office and get some of our physician quality Omega supplements to ensure you’re getting the best quality.

Many people avoid eating fish or taking omega supplements because of the after “fishy” taste that they may burp up. Here’s a solution: put the capsules in the freezer and this will decrease this fishy after-taste. So now, there’s no excuse to not embrace the benefits of these natural products.

1.Julie A. Mares; Rick P. Voland; Sherie A. Sondel; Amy E. Millen; Tara LaRowe; Suzen M. Moeller; Mike L. Klein; Barbara A. Blodi; Richard J. Chappell; Lesley Tinker; Cheryl Ritenbaugh; Karen M. Gehrs; Gloria E. Sarto; Elizabeth Johnson; D. Max Snodderly; Robert B. Wallace. “Healthy Lifestyles Related to Subsequent Prevalence of Age-Related Macular Degeneration.”Â Arch Ophthalmol, December 2010; doi:10.1001/archophthalmol.2010.314.

2.Bonnielin K. Swenor, Susan Bressler, Laura Caulfield, Sheila K. West. “The Impact of Fish and Shellfish Consumption on Age-Related Macular Degeneration .”Â Ophthalmology, Volume 117, Issue 12, December 2010, Pages 2395-2401.