Self-management

Lifestyle and home remedies

Even after receiving a diagnosis of dry macular degeneration, you can take steps that may help slow vision loss.

  • Don't smoke. If you smoke, ask your doctor for help to quit.
  • Choose a healthy diet. The antioxidant vitamins in fruits and vegetables contribute to eye health. Kale, spinach, broccoli, peas and other vegetables have high levels of antioxidants, including lutein and zeaxanthin, which may benefit people with macular degeneration. Foods containing high levels of zinc may also be of particular value in patients with macular degeneration. These include high-protein foods, such as beef, pork and lamb. Nonmeat sources include milk, cheese, yogurt, whole-grain cereals and whole-wheat bread.

    Another good choice is healthy unsaturated fats, such as olive oil. And research studies have shown that a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as found in salmon, tuna and walnuts, may lower the risk for advanced AMD. But the same benefit is not shown from taking omega-3 supplements, such as fish oil pills.

  • Manage your other medical conditions. If you have cardiovascular disease or high blood pressure, for example, take your medication and follow your doctor's instructions for controlling the condition.
  • Maintain a healthy weight and exercise regularly. If you need to lose weight, reduce the number of calories you eat and increase the amount of exercise you get each day. Maintain a healthy weight by exercising regularly and controlling your diet.
  • Have routine eye exams. Ask your eye doctor about the recommended schedule for follow-up exams. In between checkups, you can do a self-assessment of your vision using an Amsler grid. These steps will help identify if your condition develops into wet macular degeneration, which can be treated with drugs.

Vitamin supplements

For people with intermediate or advanced disease, taking a high-dose formulation of antioxidant vitamins and minerals may help reduce the risk of vision loss, the American Academy of Ophthalmology says. Research shows benefit in a formulation that includes:

  • 500 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C
  • 400 international units (IU) of vitamin E
  • 10 mg of lutein
  • 2 mg of zeaxanthin
  • 25 or 80 mg of zinc (as zinc oxide)
  • 2 mg of copper (as cupric oxide)

The evidence doesn't show benefit in these supplements for people with early-stage dry macular degeneration. In addition, high doses of vitamin E may increase the risk of heart failure and other complications. Ask your doctor if taking supplements is right for you.

Coping and support

These tips may help you cope with your changing vision:

  • Ask your eye doctor to check your eyeglasses. If you wear contacts or glasses, be sure your prescription is up to date.
  • Use magnifiers. A variety of magnifying devices can help you with reading and other close-up work, such as sewing. Such devices include hand-held magnifying lenses or magnifying lenses you wear like glasses.
  • You may also use a closed-circuit television system that uses a video camera to magnify reading material and project it on a video screen.

  • Change your computer display and add audio systems. Adjust the font size in your computer's settings. And adjust your monitor to show more contrast. You may also add speech-output systems or other technologies to your computer.
  • Use electronic reading aids and voice interface. Try large-print books, tablet computers and audio books. Some tablet and smartphone apps are designed to help people with low vision. And many of these devices now come with a voice recognition system, which can be a helpful low vision aid.
  • Select special appliances made for low vision. Some clocks, radios, telephones and other appliances have extra-large numbers. You may find it easier to watch a television with a larger high-definition screen, or you may want to sit closer to the screen.
  • Use brighter lights in your home. Better lighting helps with reading and other daily activities, and it may also reduce the risk of falling.
  • Consider your transportation options. If you drive, check with your doctor to see if it's safe to continue doing so. Be extra cautious in certain situations, such as driving at night, in heavy traffic or in bad weather. Use public transportation or ask family members to help, especially with night driving. Make arrangements to use local van or shuttle services, volunteer driving networks, or rideshares.
  • Get support. Having macular degeneration can be difficult, and you may need to make changes in your life. You may go through many emotions as you adjust. Consider talking to a counselor or joining a support group. Spend time with supportive family members and friends.

Prevention

The following measures may help reduce your risk of developing dry macular degeneration:

  • Have routine eye exams. Ask your eye doctor how often you need to undergo routine eye exams. A dilated eye exam can identify macular degeneration.
  • Manage your other medical conditions. For example, if you have cardiovascular disease or high blood pressure, take your medication and follow your doctor's instructions for controlling the condition.
  • Don't smoke. Smokers are more likely to develop macular degeneration than are nonsmokers. Ask your doctor for help to stop smoking.
  • Maintain a healthy weight and exercise regularly. If you need to lose weight, reduce the number of calories you eat and increase the amount of exercise you get each day. Maintain a healthy weight by exercising regularly and controlling your diet.
  • Choose a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Choose a healthy diet that's full of a variety of fruits and vegetables. These foods contain antioxidant vitamins that reduce your risk of developing macular degeneration.
  • Include fish in your diet. Omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fish, may reduce the risk of macular degeneration. Nuts, such as walnuts, also contain omega-3 fatty acids.
Dec. 04, 2015
References
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