Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is one of the most common eye conditions among people aged 65 and over and is the leading cause of blindness in the west. While AMD does pose a serious risk to our eye health, a recent study from Harvard University has found that there are very easy, natural things we can do right now to protect ourselves against developing the condition in the future. In this article, we’ll look at what AMD is, what causes it and how you can prevent it.
What is AMD?
Age-related macular degeneration is a condition in which the macula – the yellow area at the back of the eye, near the centre of the retina where vision is at its sharpest – becomes damaged over time. Once damage to the macular becomes evident vision becomes blurred, particularly at the centre of the field of vision, and over time vision can deteriorate all together.
What causes AMD?
Blue light is the main cause of AMD, but what is blue light? Basically, the eye detects a spectrum of coloured light ranging from red to green to blue. Blue travels and enters the eye at a higher frequency than any other, making it more damaging to the eye.
Our exposure to blue light comes from several, everyday sources like the sun and artificial light as well as from electronic devices such as mobile phones, tablets and laptops.
With exposure from so many sources it may not surprise you to hear that AMD affects as many as three in ten people over 75 years old. And, with the rise in the use of mobile devices that has occurred in recent years this statistic could be set rise even higher.
How can it be prevented?
As daunting as these figures may seem, there is one very simple thing we can all do to dramatically reduce our risk of developing the condition and that is to adjust our diets.
The Harvard University study found that those who ate a diet rich in lutein and zeaxanthin were 40% less likely to develop AMD. And while lutein and zeaxanthin might sound like they could be hard to come by in the real world, they are actually surprisingly common nutrients found in foods like kale and carrots.
You can find full details of the foods with the highest levels of lutein and zeaxanthin below:
Image credit: Focus Clinics