These 5 Bad Habits Can Cause Macular Degeneration

These 5 Bad Habits Can Cause Macular Degeneration

Sometimes the human system has a much better chance of developing illness when the host creates a disease-friendly environment. This can particularly apply to macular degeneration, the number one leading cause of blindness in people over fifty years of age. Supporting healthy vision requires several things you can do to keep your sight functioning optimally. When you neglect to do these things you are opening yet another door for a compromise to occur which could result in some serious implications down the line. 

Explored here, these 5 bad habits can cause macular degeneration, showing real data on going down a path that could potentially mean losing your sight as you age. Taking the initiative to recognize and reverse these bad habits may be the most important thing you do for your vision, before it is too late. This also applies to those that have already been diagnosed with macular degeneration as such lifestyle changes could slow down progression and, in some cases, improve vision. 

Rubbing the Wrong Way

Rubbing your eyes can be a lot worse than you think. Frequent rubbing could transport microscopic bacteria into the eye (sometimes even after you wash your hands). This may cause an eye infection as well as damage the cornea (the transparent protective layer which forms the front of the eye). Macular degeneration could be brewing beneath the surface and may only need a bacterial compromise to exacerbate its progression. 

Avoid rubbing your eyes when they are itchy or fatigued. Instead, place a cold compress over your eyes for a short period until the urge subsides. If a cold compress is unavailable, splash cold water over (not into) your eyes for relief. If the urge continues, see your eye doctor to address allergies or a bacterial infection beginning to develop.

Don’t Go Outside Naked

Leaving your home without eye protection is one of the worst habits to get into. Nowadays we are all exposed to a high amount of microscopic pollution and pathogens as well as damaging sun rays more powerful than ever before due to global warming. These, and other exterior threats, have shown to accelerate the risk of developing macular degeneration. 

Don’t go outside naked and instead make sure you wear a hat and good sunglasses (cheap ones can damage your eyes just as much as wearing nothing at all). Wearing a hat and sunglasses when outside (even on a cloudy day) has proven to be an excellent way to protect your eyes from developing macular degeneration. 

According to a study titled, ‘Sunlight and the 10-year incidence of age-related maculopathy’, published in the Archives of Ophthalmology, it was concluded that,

“Consistent with results from the baseline and 5-year follow-up examinations, significant associations were found between extended exposure to the summer sun and the 10-year incidence of early ARM [age-related maculopathy, a form of macular degeneration] and increased retinal pigment. A protective effect of hat and sunglasses use by participants while in their teens and 30s against the 10-year incidence of soft indistinct drusen and retinal pigment epithelial depigmentation was also found,”

Make sure the sunglasses you choose block both UVA and UVB rays 100%. Sunglasses without this protection simply use dark lenses which cause the pupils to open more exposing them to these damaging ultraviolet rays.

Eating The Wrong Foods

Scores of studies have been conducted on what nutritional choices are best applied for maintaining healthy vision and especially helping prevent macular degeneration. It used to be that carrots were the go-to food that experts and parents would always cite as being good for your vision. However, extensive research has surpassed this one choice and expanded into a long list of foods that contain various sight saving compounds. 

Bright Focus reported that, 

“People with diets that are elevated in fat, cholesterol and high glycemic index foods, and low in antioxidants and green leafy vegetables may be more likely to develop AMD [age-related macular degeneration]. High-glycemic index foods, such as white rice, bread and pasta raise blood sugar rapidly, whereas low-glycemic foods, such as whole grain breads or oatmeal can lower the risk of AMD by stabilizing blood sugar levels.”

Best foods to prevent AMD include:

  • Fruits – Apricots, avocado, blackberries, blueberries, grapes, grapefruit, orange, lemon, lime, papaya, pumpkin, strawberries
  • Vegetables – Broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, carrots, collard greens, dandelion greens, kale, lettuce, mustard greens, peas, peppers, potato, spinach, sweet potato, summer squash, winter squash
  • Nuts and seeds – Choose raw, unsalted forms of nuts and seeds instead of packaged and processed which include: Almonds, flaxseed, chia seeds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, peanuts
  • Legumes – Black-eyed peas, chickpeas, kidney beans, lentils, peas, pinto beans
  • Whole grains – Oat, quinoa, farro, buckwheat, wheat berries, wild rice
  • Fats – Olive oil, safflower oil, wheat germ oil, flax oil
  • Herbs and spices – Basil, cilantro, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, thyme

Overexposed Screen Time

After years of staring at phone and computer screens, data is finally emerging on how this habit is a bad habit that could eventually lead to macular degeneration. Health Digest recently reported that,

“There is some evidence suggesting blue light may be a risk factor for the onset or progression of macular degeneration, an eye disease affecting the small central part of the eye called the macula, an article published in Scientific Reports explained. Macular degeneration can lead to permanent vision loss (via Healthline). A 2018 study confirmed that blue light can indeed cause damage at higher exposures,”

Take breaks after about 20-30 minutes of screen time. Look off into the distance, place a cold compress over eyes, and try to close your eyes fro about 4-5 minutes. This will help mitigate damage that may lead to AMD. In addition, turn your screen brightness down to reduce the amount of blue light exposure and wear blue-blocking glasses when using electronic devices. 

High Blood Pressure

Even though high blood pressure (hypertension) is not a bad habit, getting and maintaining high blood pressure often is. This is mainly linked to years of poor diet habits as well as minimal exercise.

A study titled, ‘Hypertension affects the treatment of wet age-related macular degeneration’, published in Acta Ophthalmologica, it was concluded that,

“wet AMD was associated with hypertension status, and after the regular series of three injections, wAMD patients with hypertension were more likely to receive anti-VEGF drug intravitreal injections than those without hypertension. These results may facilitate prospective research on the prevention of wAMD and contribute to the management of wAMD patients.”

By following a diet high in plant-based choices and following a good exercise program, you could significantly reduce your risk of developing macular degeneration. 

These 5 bad habits can cause macular degeneration, however, now that you are aware you can do something about it before it is too late. Treat your eyes right and stop these bad habits by switching to more healthy choices.