How can I avoid macular degeneration?

Lowering your risk of macular degeneration requires making healthy decisions throughout your life.

However, there are some things you can do on your next vacation to help prevent macular degeneration:

  • Wear sunglasses. “The sun-related diseases people develop are not related to the vacation they had last week,” said Krauss. “They’re related to the vacation they had 40 years ago. Whether it causes macular degeneration, aging of the skin or cancer, sun exposure is a cumulative thing over a long period of time and needs to be limited.” Look for sunglasses that offer protection from both UVA and UVB rays, and be sure to wear them when you’re outdoors.
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat. Wearing a broad-brimmed hat can be beneficial at keeping some sunlight out of your eyes, said Pierce. It also has the added advantage of shading your skin from damaging UV rays.
  • Don’t smoke. People who occasionally smoke at home may be tempted to light up a cigarette when they’re on spring break. But if you’re trying to take care of your eyes and your overall health, resist the urge to smoke on vacation — or ever.
  • Eat a nutritious diet. “A heart-healthy diet rich in antioxidants can support the eye. Eat leafy vegetables high in lutein, like spinach,” said Pierce.
  • Keep up with your medication. If you take medication to manage your blood pressure or cholesterol levels, don’t forget to pack it in your suitcase. “Managing heart conditions can help reduce your risk of macular degeneration,” said Pierce.
  • Exercise. Incorporate some physical activities in your spring break itinerary. It can help keep your weight at a healthy level, which subsequently helps maintain normal blood pressure and reduces the risk of macular degeneration.
  • Test yourself. A portable vision test from the Kellogg Eye Center at the University of Michigan can help you check for signs of macular degeneration, whether you’re at home or lounging by a resort pool. Stare at the paper grid. If you notice that the lines get wavy or your vision becomes darker, make an appointment with your doctor to get it checked out.