AMD, or Age-Related Macular Degeneration, is the main reason that many Americans struggle with seeing “the fine print” later in life. AMD is a disease that affects the macula – an area in the back of the eye responsible for helping us see and read smaller letters.

“AMD is the leading cause of blindness in individuals over the age of 55, affecting more than two million Americans,” says Dr. Kamal Kishore, an ophthalmologist with Illinois Retina & Eye Associates.

While there’s no cure currently for AMD, there are certain precautions that you can take to lessen its effects – and it’s never too early to start. Here are 7 easy ways to be nicer to your eyes.

1. Eat a diet rich in antioxidants
“AMD is more common in individuals with low levels of Zinc and antioxidants,” explains Dr. Kishore. To ensure that you are getting enough of these necessary nutrients in your daily diet, he suggests eating foods such as spinach, kale collards and other leafy vegetables, as well as blueberries and cherries.

2. Just call it “see” food
You’ve probably heard about the importance of Omega-3 fatty acids in your diet, but you might not know that they help prevent AMD as well. Good sources of these omega-3 fatty acids can include salmon, tuna, anchovies, cod, shrimp and scallops or, for landlubbers, walnuts, almonds, flaxseeds and soy. Omega-3 rich foods also help with symptoms of dry eye, such as chronic eye irritation.

3. Keep other health problems at bay
Those who suffer from a host of other health issues, including high blood pressure, heart disease, poor circulation and obesity, have a greater risk of AMD, according to Dr. Kishore. “Obese patients have a higher risk of progression from early AMD to advanced AMD,” he says.

4. Don’t smoke – and stop now if you already do
It’s no secret that smoking cigarettes takes a toll on your overall health – and this includes the health of your eyes. If you currently smoke cigarettes, get help to stop right away. And if you only smoke occasionally, stamp out the urge for the sake of your sight.

5. Start keeping an eye on your eyes
Adults 55 and older ought to keep a close watch on their eyesight. “Everyone should check his or her central vision one eye at a time at least once a day,” says Dr. Kishore, adding that a rapid decline in the ability to read can signify a problem with the macula.

6. Treat yourself to regular eye exams
It’s always a great idea to get regular eye exams and keep up with the health of your eyes, but it’s particularly important for adults 55 and older not to neglect their annual check-ups.

7. Take vitamins that help your eyesight
If you already are showing signs of moderate AMD, it’s a great idea to take a vitamin that is formulated specifically for healthier eyesight.

“When you are shopping for vitamins, look for those that say ‘AREDS2,’ which stands for Age Related Eye Disease Study,” says Dr. Kishore. “High doses of vitamins C, E, zinc and lutein were shown through the AREDS2 to be helpful for those with intermediate and advanced AMD.”



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