Change is one of the few constants in life. This truth especially applies to our bodies: As we age, we undergo several changes — some for the better, and some, it feels, for the… not as great. One of most uncomfortable age-related changes is vision loss. When you can’t see as clearly, it feels like you can’t think as clearly, either. The good news, however, is that we have the power to slow vision loss and feel our very best. Keep reading to learn more about age-related vision loss, and the habits that can strengthen your sight fast.
How common is vision loss?
The number of people with age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the top cause of vision loss in folks over 50, is more than 2.75 times higher than previously thought. How do you know if you’re among those suffering from this condition? There are a few telltale signs. “The earliest warning sign is blurring of your central vision or difficulty seeing at night and in low light,” says Jason Miller, MD, at the University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center. Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to reduce your risk of developing AMD and keep your vision sharp as you age.
Sip a green smoothie.
Start your day right with a green smoothie. It’s no surprise that a mix of fruits and veggies is good for your body. But did you know that getting in your greens is specifically good for your eyes, too? Toss a handful of baby spinach into your smoothie for a dose of one of nature’s top sources of nitrates. These compounds are easily converted into nitric oxide, which dilates blood vessels and improves blood flow to the retina. Indeed, a study published in the Journal Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that people who ate the most leafy greens may be less likely to develop AMD than those who rarely ate them.
Enjoy a catnap.
When you don’t sleep well, you feel foggy and blah the next day, and not just mentally or emotionally. As it turns out, sleep loss might hurt your vision, too, so getting in more Zzzs is good for your eyes and your body. Adequate sleep helps the body churn out more dopamine, a brain chemical that helps your eyes distinguish colors and shades and helps you see clearly in low light. A study in the American Journal of Medicine found that folks who kept their dopamine levels up may cut their risk of AMD by more than a third.
Savor ‘golden milk.’
This tasty yellow drink is, literally, liquid gold — at least when it comes to your vision. Golden milk, a warm, soothing drink made with turmeric and other spices, may be your new favorite nightcap. Research published in Experimental and Therapeutic Medicine suggests this sip’s curcumin (found in turmeric) may cut the oxidative stress that sets AMD in motion. Want to make it yourself? Mix 1 cup of warm milk or almond milk with 1 teaspoon of turmeric, then add cinnamon, ginger, and honey to taste. Cheers!
Load up on these foods
Adding a few delicious foods to your diet is an easy way to ward off AMD. The key: Eat more carotenoids, plant compounds found in fruits and veggies like leafy greens, carrots, tomatoes, and broccoli. University of Wisconsin scientists say getting enough carotenoids in your diet may cut AMD risk by 46 percent. A study published in JAMA supports this claim, since the researchers found that those who consumed a high amount of carotenoids had a 43 percent lower risk of developing AMD than those who did not. Bonus: Season your veggies with delicious saffron, which, according to the Italian Journal of Medicine, may improve contrast sensitivity and visual clarity, as well as slow down the progression of vision loss.
Consider a treatment.
If you’re concerned about AMD, talk to your doctor about receiving a medical treatment that may help. Earlier this year, the FDA approved a pegcetacoplan injection as the first-ever treatment for geographic atrophy, an advanced form of AMD in which retinal lesions cause blindness. According to the research behind this medication, the monthly injection may cut lesion growth up to 36 percent.
This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.