What to Tell Your Adult Children About Preventing AMD
“Mom, how do I keep from getting macular degeneration?” This recent question from my youngest daughter really tugged at my heart.
How can I help my children avoid a low vision lifestyle?
My three adult children have good reason to worry about getting age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
A family history
My mother had wet AMD several years prior to her death. My younger sister now has wet AMD in both eyes and gets injections every four weeks. I was diagnosed six years ago and have intermediate stage AMD in my right eye. My oldest child has both glaucoma and early-stage dry macular degeneration.
Getting older and family history are two factors in the development of macular degeneration. These are beyond our control.
There are several factors in the development of AMD that we can control. The following habits are what I am encouraging my children to focus on.
1. Maintain a healthy way
Do your best to reach a healthy weight and maintain it. My children all struggle with their weight, as I have most of my life.
2. Stop smoking!
All three of my children are either currently smoking or vaping. Though no longer a smoker, I set a bad example for my children early on.
3. Exercise at least five days each week.
You don’t need an expensive gym membership. Take a brisk walk. Use an app on your phone or smartwatch to track your activity.
4. Cut out the fast foods.
Eat more fruit and leafy green vegetables, fish, and whole grains. The busy lives they live make modifying their diet difficult.
5. Monitor your blood pressure
Keep your blood pressure under control. All three of my children have hypertension.
6. Don’t skip your annual eye exam.
Many people are diagnosed with AMD and other eye conditions during their regular check up. If you notice any changes in your vision between annual visits, see your doctor right away.
7. Protect your eyes from the sun when outdoors.
The best style sunglasses are wraparound providing more coverage. Wear your sunglasses even on overcast days.
8. Avoid blue light
There is some evidence that blue light from the sun may be a risk factor in the development and progression of AMD. Blue light from electronic devices is different from the sun. So far the evidence for this type of blue light exposure is not conclusive as a risk factor. To protect your eyes, make sure your eyewear has UV protection.1
But keep a balance
I also want my children to live healthy balanced lives. This is what I suggest they don’t do.
1. Do not obsess about getting macular degeneration.
Remember, worry isn’t good for your health either.
2. Do not go on restrictive diets to lose weight.
In my experience, those diets fail and I usually regain more weight than I Iost.
3. Don't make exercise an obsession.
Your lives are busy. Find an activity you like to do. It’s okay to fit in ten-minute workouts.
I would love to hear what others in our macular degeneration community are telling their children. Leave a comment below.
Do you feel that you've maintained independence with macular degeneration?