Exercise For Your…Eyes?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably already know that just 30 minutes of exercise a day can help your heart, energy levels, and waistline. But did you know that it can also benefit your eyes? Eye diseases are often times linked to other health problems such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. Regular exercise can help prevent these diseases, or at least limit their impact if they occur or if you’re already dealing with them.

Exercise can help those with glaucoma (by reducing intraocular pressure and improving blood circulation to the retina and optic nerve), age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, as well as other diseases that can affect vision. And you don’t have to compete in ironman races or marathons; even a brisk walk, climbing stairs or dancing three times a week can benefit you. So make time for that walk or hike — your eyes will thank you.

Macular Degeneration: Dry and Wet

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Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD or ARMD) is a disease of the macula that causes loss of central vision, leaving side vision relatively unchanged.  The macula, an area of the retina that lines the inside back wall of your eye, is responsible for sharp, central vision necessary for many activities such as reading, driving, and recognizing faces.  AMD usually occurs in people who are age 50 and older.

There are two forms of AMD – dry and wet.  The more common, early form of dry AMD accounts for 85-90% of all AMD patients.  In dry AMD, yellow deposits known as drusen begin to accumulate at the macula.  Vision loss is generally slow and gradual.  At any time, dry AMD can progress to the more severe, wet AMD where there is swelling under the macula caused by leaky new abnormal blood vessels or choroidal neovascularization (CNV) leading to a sudden loss of vision.

Although the exact cause is unknown, AMD risk factors include:  age, smoking (2-3 times higher risk in smokers), a family history of AMD, being Caucasian or female, obesity (body mass index (BMI) >30 has 2.5 times greater risk), hypertension, high cholesterol, and prolonged UV exposure.

No cure or treatments exist for dry AMD, although nutritional supplements such as zinc, lutein, zeaxanthin and antioxidants such as vitamins A, C, and E may help prevent or slow its progression.  FDA-approved drugs directed at the abnormal blood vessels in wet AMD include Visudyne with Photodynamic Therapy (PDT), Avastin, Macugen, Lucentis, Eylea, and anti-VEGF injection therapy.

Early signs of macular degeneration can be detected in a comprehensive dilated retinal exam.  Have your eyes examined yearly by your optometrist.  If you are age 50 or older and are concerned of the symptoms you’re experiencing, have an exam sooner as early detection and appropriate follow-up care are keys to preserving your vision.

Food for Sight

It’s a well-known fact that carrots are good for your eyesight, but did you know there are several nutrients that can keep your eyes healthy throughout your life? A healthy diet may help reduce the risk of vision issues like cataracts, glaucoma, age related macular degeneration and diabetic retinaopathy and help promote good eye health from as early as infancy.

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