Preventing Macular Degeneration May Prevent Mental Decline

Preventing Macular Degeneration May Prevent Mental Decline

Actor Anthony Hopkins once said, “Getting old ‘aint for the faint of heart.” He was most likely referring to all the trials and tribulations your body and mind may be confronted with as it breaks down. This includes the risk of developing macular degeneration, one of the leading causes of blindness in America today and/or Alzheimer’s/dementia disease, another major health crisis.

Recently, a new study found that maintaining healthy eyesight could also help prevent mental decline. This link may offer another clue to how preventative applications may work for a variety of health issues, not just one.

Some Stats

The statistical reports for AMD and Alzheimer’s are both highly concerning.

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology,

“Nearly 2.1 million Americans age 50 and older have late AMD [age-related macular degeneration], the stage that can lead to severe vision impairment. In 2010, 9.1 million Americans had early AMD. By age 80, one in ten Americans has late AMD, which is more common in women than in men.”

Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are also on the rise. The Alzheimer’s Association reports that,

“5.7 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s. By 2020, this number is projected to rise to nearly 14 million…Every 65 seconds someone in the United States develops the disease.”

With these stats, anything to prevent such results should be a consideration. Now it looks as though the same preventative steps for both AMD and Alzheimer’s may help.

The Study

By making some simple changes in your daily routine when it comes to diet, exercise and eye protection, you just may be able to prevent macular degeneration and Alzheimer’s dementia disease at the same time.

In a recent study of 2,520 adults conducted by combined efforts of research from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and the Human Development and Family Studies, Purdue University, a link between the two diseases was discovered.

Published in JAMA Ophthalmology (6/28/18),

“In a population-based sample of older US adults, visual impairment measured at distance is associated with declining cognitive function both cross-sectionally and longitudinally over time with worsening vision having a stronger association with declining cognition than the reverse. Worsening vision in older adults may be adversely associated with future cognitive functioning. Maintaining good vision may be an important interventional strategy for mitigating age-related cognitive declines.”

Now that a reputable, peer reviewed study has been published, the writing is on the wall for you to take heed. Sticking to a preventative protocol for AMD is more important than ever before. This even applies if you are already afflicted. Studies also show that specific dietary and exercise efforts after an AMD diagnosis may slow progression. One study addresses the importance of how more antioxidants could help.

Published in the Cochrane database of systematic reviews, a study by researchers at the Cochrane Eyes and Vision, ICEH, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine reported that,

“It has been proposed that antioxidants may prevent cellular damage in the retina by reacting with free radicals that are produced in the process of light absorption. Higher dietary levels of antioxidant vitamins and minerals may reduce the risk of progression of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).”

Start a preventive program for AMD now. This could keep symptoms from occurring or reduce the rapid growth of macular degeneration and Alzheimer’s/dementia disease combined.

Preventative Steps for AMD

Conventional medicine can only offer a variety of “band-aid” approaches when it comes to AMD. This includes expensive and sometimes painful treatments such as pharmaceutical eye drops, oral medicines, injections and surgery. These approaches may help temporarily but it is the work you do on your own that could make a huge difference.

According to AllAbout Vision, below is a useful list, with researched proof, you can follow to take preventative steps to avoid or slow AMD.

  • Don’t smoke – Health experts at the University of Manchester said in a British Medical Journal report that smokers are up to four times more likely than non-smokers to have macular degeneration.
  • Eat plenty of dark, leafy green vegetables, such as raw spinach – A study published by researchers at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary reported that people who consumed the most vegetables rich in carotenoids (lutein and zeaxanthin) had a 43 percent lower risk of AMD than those who ate these foods the least.
  • Take a balanced multivitamin/multi-mineral supplement This is especially important for older adults who may not be getting enough nutrition from their diet alone. Try Centrum Silver, or more potent formulas recommended by a trained expert unless your doctor advises otherwise.
  • AREDS (age-related eye disease supplement) formulations – These are supplements specially formulated for macular health, such as I-Caps AREDS 2 (Alcon), PreserVision AREDS 2 (Bausch + Lomb), Eyepex Macula (Eyepex Formulas) or MacularProtect Complete AREDS2 (ScienceBased Health). An ARED formula should contain: Vitamin C – 500 mg, Vitamin E – 400 IU, Beta-carotene – 15 mg, Zinc – 80 mg (as zinc oxide), Copper – 2 mg (as cupric oxide).
  • Eat fish or take a fish oil supplement – A study at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary showed that senior men with the highest levels of fish consumption (more than two servings weekly) were 45 percent less likely to have AMD than those who ate the least amount of fish (less than one serving per week).
  • Exercise regularly, and maintain a healthy weight – According to a study in the British Journal of Ophthalmology, 4,000 people ages 43 to 86 were monitored for 15 years. After considering other risk factors such as weight, cholesterol levels and age, researchers found that people who led an active lifestyle were 70 percent less likely to have AMD develop during the follow-up period.
  • Eat fruit and nuts daily – A 2004 study at Harvard Medical School showed that participants who ate three or more servings of fruit daily had a substantially lower risk of “wet” or advanced AMD. Another study from the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary demonstrated that eating nuts helped deter progression of early or intermediate AMD to more advanced stages.
  • Limit your intake of refined carbohydrates (high-glycemic index foods) – A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition confirmed that diets high in refined carbohydrates increase the risk of AMD.
  • Keep your blood pressure and cholesterol under control – The Framingham Heart and Eye Studies and Beaver Dam Eye Study indicate a significant link between high blood pressure and development of advanced, potentially blinding forms of macular degeneration. Cholesterol can build up in your blood and line your arteries preventing proper blood flow to maintain healthy eyesight.
  • Wear sunglasses outdoors to block UV and blue light – The Review of Optometry report, ‘The Role of UV Damage in Ocular Disease’ (10/12) stated that, “Studies have shown that many individuals with macular degeneration have had greater UV exposure over their lifetime.
  • Have regular eye exams – The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends a dilated eye exam at least every two to three years if you’re between 45 and 60 and every year after the age of 60.

These preventative steps for AMD are directly associated with helping prevent cognitive decline as well. This information is too important to ignore and too easy to avoid so start today. Look over the list and add whatever is missing in your life which, in time, may just enhance your life at the same time.