It is possible to reduce the risk of macular degeneration and / or slow its progression by making positive changes to your lifestyle. Here are some suggestions:
Smoking increases our chances of developing macular degeneration by a factor of three. Studies have also shown that smokers develop macular degeneration around ten years earlier than non-smokers.
To help plan and implement a strategy to quit smoking speak to your GP and / or call the Quitline: 13 7848 or visit Quit Now for information and support.
As we get older, physical fitness is essential for everyday tasks, such as getting in and out of chairs, carrying the shopping or lifting grandchildren. However people with low vision and people who feel unsteady on their feet may, over time, do less walking. Consequently muscles can get weaker and joints stiffen, lessening our ability to be well balanced. Regular exercise at all ages improves balance, strength, mobility and reaction time, and can reduce the risks of injury in the event of a fall. Being physically active also helps manage chronic conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, depression and high blood pressure.
Some researchers believe that people with an elevated blood pressure may be at greater risk of wet macular degeneration. Exercising regularly and controlling weight can be beneficial for blood pressure and for overall health.
What you can do:
There are many activities to help keep you fit and healthy at the right pace, such as walking, swimming, tai chi, yoga, dancing or home or group exercises. There are also various team sports for people with low vision such as blind golf, bowls, and cricket. Just getting out of the house for cards, bingo or a local community event will help to keep active.
- Consider mobility training if you have low vision and need help to navigate around your home, neighbourhood or wider community
- Contact your local council for information on local activities
- Check with local seniors groups about what activities they may offer
- Call Blind Sports Australia for information on sporting organisations and activities for people with low vision
Maintaining a healthy weight is an important aspect of a healthy lifestyle and can help reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes as well as macular degeneration. Nutrition can play an important role in optimising macular health.
The link between macular degeneration and sunlight exposure is not strong but protecting the eyes from UV light is recommended.
This also makes going outside more comfortable for people with macular degeneration who are more sensitive to glare. The eyes can be protected by wearing a hat, sunglasses or transition lenses when outdoors.
It is important to remember that any changes in diet or lifestyle should be undertaken in consultation with your doctor.