Taking care of your eyes could also have a positive effect on your mental well-being. While age-related vision loss, known as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), is a common issue as people get older, there are ways to help lower your risk of developing this condition. Doing so could have the added benefit of reducing your risk of depression.
Age-Related Vision Loss
AMD is the main cause of vision loss in people who are 50 years old and up, according to the National Eye Institute. It occurs when the part of the eye called the macula becomes damaged due to aging and other factors, such as smoking. The macula helps you see things that are right in front of you.
When the macula is damaged, it affects your central vision, which can make it difficult to do everyday activities, such as driving and reading. This loss of independence can lead to depression. In fact, researchers have found that there is a link between functional vision loss and depression.
Vision Loss and Depression
In a 2013 study, researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that 11.3 percent of participating adults had both depression and vision loss, while 4.8 percent had depression and no vision loss. The researchers concluded that there is a significant association between vision loss and depression. Fortunately, people can help prevent AMD by lowering the risk factors associated with it.
Preventing AMD and Reducing the Risk of Depression
While you can't do much about age as a risk factor for AMD, you can make certain lifestyle changes to lower your risk of developing this condition. This, in turn, can help reduce your risk of depression associated with vision loss. These lifestyle changes include:
- Stop smoking: Smokers have a much higher chance of developing AMD. If you're a smoker, work on quitting to reduce your risk. Keep in mind that nonsmokers also have a higher risk of AMD if they're exposed to cigarette smoke on a regular basis.
- Eat healthy: Having high cholesterol levels can increase your risk of having AMD. In addition to limiting foods that are high in cholesterol, include more green, leafy vegetables in your diet. These contain antioxidants that help lower your risk of AMD. Fish that contain omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, also provide these antioxidants.
- Exercise: Since obesity is a risk factor for AMD, losing weight can lower your chance of developing this condition. Exercise on a regular basis to maintain a healthy body weight.
- Get regular eye exams: See your eye doctor once a year for regular exams. Your eye doctor can check for signs of AMD and suggest treatment methods if you have it. Your eye doctor might recommend more frequent checks for AMD if you have a family history of it.
Keep in mind that even if you do end up getting AMD, continuing to take care of your eyes can help you maintain your normal vision longer and lower your risk of developing depression.
For more information, contact Ashworth Vision Clinic or a similar location.