Macular degeneration is something that typically happens in older populations, where damage to the retina causes loss of vision in the centre of the field of vision. But it can happen earlier in life for some people, especially when they aren’t taking care of their overall health. And it can lead to a total loss of eyesight, something that definitely affects the quality of life, even if it is in the amorphous “future”.
Many of the ways you can protect your eyes are things to keep in mind for overall health and wellbeing as well. So even though you don’t need more reasons to discourage your kids from smoking, I want to add another reason to the pile. Because it has been discovered that people who smoke develop macular degeneration earlier in life. This is doubly true if there is a genetic risk factor for the disease.
You also want to make sure that any other health issues you have, like high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes are under control. These issues increase the likelihood that you are going to develop issues with your retina, whether those issues show up in old age or sooner.
And, if you needed one more reason to eat healthily, maintain a healthy weight, and exercise, I have that reason: they will prevent or delay loss of eye sight. Omega-3 fatty acids seem especially promising in maintaining healthy eyes and preventing macular degeneration. Eating lots of vegetables, especially those high in antioxidants and the nutrients lutein and zeaxanthin, both of which who have been studied to help protect your eye health and prevent macular degeneration. Eat fish or take fish oil supplements. Exercise to improve blood flow and prevent disease (or even help heal certain diseases that, among other things, contribute to your risk of macular degeneration).
There are many reasons to maintain a healthy lifestyle, to not smoke, and to visit your doctor regularly. Your eye health is just one of them.