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Are there any natural macular degeneration remedies that can reduce your risk of AMD or to complement your existing macular degeneration treatment? The answer is yes, and I have listed six of the most important natural macular degeneration remedies below.
But before we get into that, let's find out a bit more about macular degeneration first.
What is macular degeneration and why is it important?
Age-related macular degeneration or AMD is a disease that affects the macula and your central vision. The photoreceptors located at the macula stop functioning properly (either from cell death or fluid leakage), causing blurring and distortion of your central vision.
According to Prevent Blindness America, macular degeneration is the leading cause of legal blindness in Americans aged 65 and older. In fact, AMD isn't just a problem in America - it is the number one cause of blindness in first world countries.
In AMD, the central vision is affected (example on your left). You may notice problems with reading, recognizing faces and driving. You may also notice distortion of straight lines and smudges in your central vision. The visual impairment may or may not be reversed, depending on the type and severity of damage. This means that AMD can cause blindness if not detected and treated early enough.
(Image adapted from the internet)
The only proven macular degeneration treatment option available currently is via injections of anti-VEGF medication into the eyeball. Even then, this treatment is only effective for wet AMD and not dry AMD.
So is there any way to we can naturally reduce our risk of getting macular degeneration? There are certainly risk factors for AMD that you can't change, such as age, family history and genes.
The good news is that there are also risk factors that can be changed. In other words, there are medication-free, natural remedies that you can incorporate into your lifestyle to reduce your risk of macular degeneration.
However, these cannot replace the AMD treatments that your eye specialist has prescribed for you.
Here I list 6 natural macular degeneration remedies and supplements that can help prevent and reduce your risk of AMD blindness. Remember, these should complement, not replace, your existing treatments for macular degeneration.
1. Avoid cigarette smoke to reduce toxins
Cigarette smoke contains many harmful chemicals, such as tobacco-specific N-nitrosamines (TSNAs), benzene, pesticides, arsenic, cadmium, cyanide, and many many more. These toxins circulate all around the body and cause oxidative damage to the macula and other parts of the eye. It is no wonder that smoking is considered one of the major risk factors for AMD.
Research has found that smoking more than doubles the risk of AMD. If you smoke more than a pack of cigarettes daily, you are twice as likely to develop AMD compared to non-smokers.
So do yourself a favor and stop smoking! If you find it difficult to stop, then at least please try to cut down on the amount that you smoke so that you can reduce the amount of poison in your eyes and body.
Reducing cigarette smoke exposure is, without doubt, one of the most important and effective natural remedies for macular degeneration.
2. Reduce exposure to harmful ultraviolet radiation
Exposure to high levels of sunlight and ultraviolet light may increase the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration.This occurs due to direct thermal damage and through free radical oxidation.
It is therefore essential to reduce exposure to ultraviolet light by wearing sunglasses and a hat when you are going outside, even if the day is going to be overcast.
Look for sunglasses that provide 100% ultraviolet light protection.
Polarizing, tinted and reflective glasses are not likely to be able to provide sufficient UV protection for your eyes.
The sunglasses should also be close fitting and wrap-around to minimize direct UV exposure to your eye.
(Image adapted from www.bupaoptical.com.au)
3. Regular exercise to improve circulation
Not only is exercise good for your general health, it is also good for overall eye health, and macular degeneration prevention in particular!
Research has shown that exercise (at least 3 times a week) and an active lifestyle reduced the risk of developing wet AMD by at least 70%. Regular cardiovascular exercise is able to reduce inflammation and irregularities in the blood vessel walls associated with choroidal neovascularization in wet AMD.
Even simple exercise, such as walking, helps. If you walk more than 12 blocks regularly, your risk of developing AMD decreases by up to 30%.
On the other hand, if you have high blood pressure that is not under control, then you are 3 times more likely to develop AMD than someone without high blood pressure.
4. Natural supplements for macular degeneration
a) AREDS (Age-Related Eye Diseases Study) & AREDS 2
The AREDS (Age-Related Eye Diseases Study) was a major clinical trial sponsored by the National Eye Institute of the United States. The AREDS trial reported that very high levels of antioxidant and zinc consumption may reduce the risk of developing AMD by up to 25%.
The following is the AREDS formulation:
1. Vitamin C 500 mg
2. Vitamin E 400 IU (International Units)
3. Vitamin A 25,000 IU or beta-carotene 15 mg
4. Zinc 80 mg
5. Copper 2 mg
However, separate trials funded by the National Cancer Institute found that beta-carotene may increase the risk of lung cancer among smokers. As a result, a new formulation was required that did not contain beta-carotene.
The AREDS formulation was therefore modified to the AREDS 2 version, with the specific formulation listed below:
With AREDS 2, there is no beta-carotene. In its place are the ocular pigments lutein and zeaxanthin.
Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids like beta-carotene, but are not associated with an increased risk of cancer.
In the AREDS 2 trial, the AREDS formulation combined with lutein and zeaxanthin (no beta-carotene) significantly reduced the risk of developing advanced AMD compared to the AREDS formulation with beta-carotene (no lutein and zeaxanthin).
The AREDS 2 trial has therefore cemented lutein and zeaxanthin as the main ingredients for natural macular degeneration treatment and prevention.
Please be aware that the AREDS 2 supplements mainly benefit those with intermediate AMD by reducing the risk of progression to late AMD by 26%. Unfortunately, neither AREDS or AREDS 2 formulations provide any significant benefit for early and late AMD.
b) With so many products available, which is the best supplement for macular degeneration?
If you are considering taking macular degeneration supplements, I would like to recommend those that are based on the AREDS 2 formula but with additional special ingredients for macular health.
These natural ingredients include bilberry, blackberry, meso-zeaxanthin or even extra lutein. They are individually powerful antioxidants that will provide extra natural protection for your macular health, especially in combination with the AREDS 2 formula.
Below are four highly-rated, top-quality, natural supplement products that combine the AREDS 2 formula with extra antioxidant boost to provide the best possible protection against AMD.
c) What about omega-3 fatty acid supplements?
Omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid), commonly found in whole grains and cold water fish, help to improve blood flow and transport of oxygen and nutrients to the eyes.
They were evaluated in the AREDS 2 trial, but were not found to have any protective effect against AMD.
Nevertheless, most experts do suggest taking it since other clinical studies have found that a high dietary intake of omega-3 fatty acids or fish reduced the risk of early and late AMD risk.
However, please be careful about the fatty acids that you consume. AMD risk is increased with omega-6 fatty acids, which is found in some vegetable oils.
Remember: More omega-3, and less omega-6.
Most AREDS 2 formulations do not contain any omega-3 fatty acids. If you wish to supplement your diet with omega-3 fatty acids, below are a selection of high quality omega-3 fatty acids that you can try.
5. Eat a healthy diet packed full of antioxidants
If you take foods rich in antioxidants and ocular pigment, you will have a 43% lower risk of developing AMD than those who do not take such foods. Research has also found that daily consumption of at least 3 servings of fruit reduces the risk of AMD by 36%. Nuts may reduce the risk of AMD progression by 40% if at least one serving is eaten per day.
So try to get as many antioxidants as possible into your daily diet, such as vitamin A (carrots, apricots, papayas), vitamin C (berries, citrus fruits, tomatoes), vitamin E (avocados, green leafy vegetables, fish), zinc (whole bran, eggs, peanuts), lutein (kale, spinach, broccoli) and zeaxanthin (brussels sprouts, cucumbers, green olives).
6. Regular monitoring by qualified eyecare professionals
OK, so this is not strictly a 'natural remedy' for macular degeneration. However, it doesn't detract from the fact that regular eye exams are important for early detection and treatment of macular degeneration.
If you are over 65, arrange for a complete eye examination at least once a year. Do this even if you feel you have no trouble with your eyesight.
You may want to undergo more frequent eye checkups if you feel you are at higher risk of AMD, such as a positive family history.
(Image adapted from the internet)
Vision testing with the Amsler grid: examples of distortion and smudges that may occur with age-related macular degeneration.
You can also monitor for the symptoms of AMD by yourself with the Amsler grid. Features that are typical for AMD include smudges, blurry patches and distortion of straight lines.
If you detect any problems with your vision during Amsler grid testing, consult your ophthalmologist as soon as possible. The sooner treatment for macular degeneration is started, the better the outcomes will be.
Final word on natural treatments and supplements for macular degeneration
The natural macular degeneration remedies and supplements described above must not replace the treatment that has already been prescribed by your eye specialist. Rather, these remedies should be in addition to and complementary to your existing treatment.
If you are considering natural AMD remedy supplements, please make sure to discuss with your eye specialist and family doctor first to avoid adverse drug interactions and unwanted side effects.
Do you have a great health tip or remedy for this eye condition? It doesn't matter if it is not recognized or recommended by your doctor - in fact, that's even better! Why not share it with other readers?
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