Keeping your drinking and your weight in check can help protect your sight as you age, experts say.
Moderate to heavy drinking is associated with a higher risk of a sight-threatening condition called age-related macular degeneration (AMD). A poor diet and excess weight can also influence your odds for AMD, the most common cause of blindness in Americans older than 50.
“We already knew that lifestyle choices can help prevent AMD,” said Dr. Dianna Seldomridge, clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
“Now we also know that alcohol consumption may be another modifiable risk factor we can control to lower the risk of developing this potentially blinding eye disease,” Seldomridge said in an academy news release.
Researchers reached that conclusion after analyzing seven prior studies on the relationship between booze and early AMD. The findings were published last year in the journal Current Eye Research.
AMD affects about 2.1 million Americans. As the population ages, the estimated number of people with AMD is expected to more than double to 5.44 million by 2050.
The degenerative disease damages the macula, part of the retina responsible for central vision. Over time, the loss of central vision can interfere with everyday activities such as driving, reading and seeing faces clearly.
Genetics play a part in the development of AMD, but lifestyle choices can reduce your risk. Here’s what you need to know:
- Eat a vitamin-rich diet high in leafy greens, colorful fruits and vegetables, and fatty fish.
- Manage your body weight and overall health. High blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease are all risk factors for AMD. Exercise is a good way to combat some of these health risks.
- Don’t smoke. Studies show smokers are more likely to get eye diseases, including AMD, than people who never smoked.
- See an ophthalmologist. All healthy adults should get a comprehensive eye exam by age 40 to screen for blinding eye diseases, according to the academy.
There’s more on AMD at the U.S. National Eye Institute.
SOURCE: American Academy of Ophthalmology, news release, Feb. 28, 2022