Macular degeneration is a major cause of vision loss in people over age 60. There are several potential causes including smoking, environmental factors, diet, genetics, and circulatory disorders. One predominant theory suggests that the light that hits the back of the eye results in oxidation of cells and a buildup of debris called drusen.
There are several potential opportunities to prevent macular degeneration. The most important preventive measure is not smoking. In addition, wear sunglasses regularly and avoid tanning booths. Eat a diet rich in vegetables, especially the intensely colored ones such as dark greens, squash, and red and yellow peppers. Keep saturated fats to a minimum and stay away from trans fats. Eat more fish and other sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
Consider taking a daily vitamin and mineral supplement. In a 10-year study done by the National Eye Institute, researchers showed that antioxidants and zinc can slow the progression of macular degeneration. The supplement used in the study contained 500 milligrams of vitamin C, 400 units of vitamin E, 15 milligrams of beta-carotene, 80 milligrams of zinc (as zinc oxide), and 2 milligrams of copper (as cupric oxide).
(Source: Aetna Intelihealth, featuring Harvard Medical School’s Consumer Health Information.)