Macular degeneration is the number-one cause of blindness in folks over 60. The good news? New science shows we can protect the retinas, halt the progression of the disease, and preserve our vision just by…
Puttering around the garden.
Seems incredible that simply moving around every day could help keep vision strong, but a surprising University of Wisconsin study found that folks over age 55 who exercise lowered their risk of macular degeneration by 54 percent. “By keeping your whole body healthy with exercise, you keep your retinas healthy too,” explains James M. Stringham, PhD, a research scientist at Duke Eye Center. And you don’t even need to exercise, per se. In fact, scientists found that doing just 10 hours of everyday activities a week like gardening and even light housework had the same protective effects.
Savoring Mediterranean fare.
You’ve probably already heard that the Mediterranean diet can lessen chronic pain, protect your heart, and help you live longer — now new research proves it staves off vision loss, too! “Many people believe that macular degeneration is simply an inherited condition, but actually things like diet play a very significant role,” says Dr. Stringham. “In fact, the Mediterranean diet has been found to slow the progression of macular degeneration by 41 percent — that’s stronger than what we see for prescribed medication,” he adds. He credits the diet’s emphasis on healthy fare (like fruit and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and fish) with quenching free radicals responsible for retina-damaging inflammation.
Boosting “eye vitamins.”
Egg yolks are chock-full of lutein and zeaxanthin, two potent antioxidants that help the body fend off macular degeneration by absorbing retina-damaging blue light, according to Dr. Stringham. Australian researchers found that folks who ate at least two eggs daily were 66 percent less likely to get macular degeneration than those who ate less. Other excellent sources of the vitamins include carrots, broccoli, sweet corn, dark leafy greens, and tomatoes.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine.