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Living Well with Geographic Atrophy

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7 Tips for People Living with Multiple Eye Conditions

Medically Reviewed By Katherine E. Duncan, MD

Monitoring your eye health can help you manage symptoms, prevent complications, and protect your vision.

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More than 4 million Trusted Source Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Governmental authority Go to source  people have low vision from macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma, or diabetic retinopathy. 

You are more likely to develop these eye conditions as you age, and not just one of them. It’s common for people over age 65 to have more than one eye condition at the same time. 

Vision loss from eye disease increases your risk for falls, injuries, dementia, and depression. If you’re living with more than one eye condition, you can protect your sight by finding the right doctor, following your treatment plan, and making a few changes to your daily routine.

1. Find an eye care team you trust

It takes a whole group of health professionals to diagnose and treat eye diseases. You will likely work with one or more of these medical professionals for your vision care:

  • low-vision specialists
  • ophthalmologist
  • optometrist
  • retinal specialist

A primary care doctor and specialists like an endocrinologist can help you manage conditions like high blood pressure or diabetes, which may be linked to eye disease. 

Finding a doctor you trust to oversee your vision care is essential. You might ask your primary care doctor for a referral or check with family and friends.

2. Follow your treatment plan

Treatment is key to preventing vision loss from macular degeneration and other eye diseases. Your treatment plan might include medications, surgery, and corrective lenses, depending on your conditions.

Dilated eye exams are another part of managing eye disease. During these visits, your eye doctor can detect changes in your vision even before symptoms occur. Ask your doctor how often you should have exams.

3. Eat for good vision

A well-balanced diet benefits your health in general, including your eyes. Some foods are particularly good for preserving vision, including: 

  • dark green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, and collard greens
  • colorful fruits and vegetables such as berries, carrots, oranges, melon, and tomatoes 
  • fatty fish like salmon and tuna

Some antioxidant vitamins and minerals promote eye health. Nutrients studied in the Age-Related Eye Disease Studies (AREDS and AREDS2) Trusted Source National Eye Institute Governmental authority Go to source  helped slow the progression of AMD. These included:

  • beta-carotene
  • copper
  • vitamin C
  • vitamin E
  • zinc

Your doctor might recommend taking one of these formulations if you have AMD.

4. Get help to quit smoking

Smoking is as harmful to your eyes as it is to the rest of your body. It increases your risk for macular degeneration, diabetic eye disease, and cataracts. It also worsens the eye conditions you may already have. Tobacco smoke damages vision by narrowing the arteries that supply your eyes with oxygen-rich blood.

Quitting is easier said than done, especially if you’ve been smoking for many years. If you’ve tried it over and over without success, ask your doctor to recommend smoking cessation tools like medication and nicotine replacement products to make it easier.

5. Boost your daily activity

Exercise is good for your entire body, including your eyes. Daily workouts lower your risk Trusted Source National Eye Institute Governmental authority Go to source  of high blood pressure, diabetes, and other health conditions linked to eye diseases.

Aerobic exercises like biking or jogging for 30 to 45 minutes, 3 to 4 times a week, improve blood flow to the eye. Cardiovascular exercise also lowers eye pressure, which is helpful if you have glaucoma. Plus, exercise may reduce inflammation, which contributes to macular degeneration.

6. Monitor your numbers

See your primary care doctor for regular checks of your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. High blood pressure narrows the blood vessels that nourish the retina. Cholesterol forms deposits under the retina and gradually damages the part of your eye responsible for clear central vision. 

7. Protect your eyes

Ultraviolet light from the sun damages the eyes and increases the risk of cataracts and other eye diseases. Protect your eyes by wearing sunglasses that block UVA and UVB light — even on cloudy days.

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Medical Reviewer: Katherine E. Duncan, MD
Last Review Date: 2024 Apr 1
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