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Healthy Living with Macular Degeneration

People who are visually impaired benefit from a healthy lifestyle that contributes to overall well-being. This includes regular exercise-adjusted to ensure safety-and a nutritious diet that may help protect remaining vision.

On this page, you will find the following:


Healthy Lifestyle, Healthy Eyes

These suggestions may help protect vision and improve overall health, and they may lower the risk of developing AMD. Even after diagnosis, continue these healthy habits:

  • Maintain a healthy weight.

  • Eat a nutritious diet that includes green leafy vegetables, yellow and orange fruit, fish, and whole grains.

  • Don't smoke.

  • Maintain normal blood pressure and control other medical conditions.

  • Exercise regularly.

  • Wear sunglasses and hats outdoors.

  • Get regular eye exams, and consult your doctor if you notice vision changes.

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"Vision" Foods to Include in your Diet

  • Dark green, yellow, and orange fruits and vegetables. These contain carotenoids, which may defend against a number of medical conditions, including age-related macular degeneration. Lutein and zeaxanthin are two especially important carotenoids related to vision health. They are found in dark, leafy greens such as spinach, collard greens, and kale, as well as in yellow corn, okra, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, mango, green beans, sweet potatoes, lima beans, squash, green, yellow and orange bell pepper, and egg yolks.

  • Fruits and vegetables abundant in vitamin C, including green peppers, citrus fruits, tomatoes, broccoli, strawberries, sweet and white potatoes, leafy greens, and cantaloupe.

  • Eggs, fortified cereals, fruit, wheat germ, green leafy vegetables, nuts, nut oils, vegetable oils, and whole grains. These all contain vitamin E.

  • Whole grain versions of pasta (sometimes called "brown pasta"), rice, and bread that contain complex carbohydrates, which are metabolized more slowly and are healthier than their "white" counterparts. White rice, bread, and pasta have a high glycemic index, meaning that the carbohydrates are broken down rapidly into glucose or blood sugar. They provide quick energy but contain few nutrients and little fiber, and in large amounts they may damage cells. Some studies have shown that eating foods with a high glycemic index may increase the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration.

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Special Vitamins for Dry Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Once dry age-related macular degeneration reaches the advanced stage, there is no form of treatment at present to prevent further vision loss. However, there is an intervention measure that could delay and possibly prevent intermediate age-related macular degeneration from progressing to the advanced stage in which vision loss occurs.

The National Eye Institute’s Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) found that taking nutritional supplements with a specific high-dose formulation of antioxidants (vitamins C and E and beta-carotene), zinc, and copper delayed or prevented the progression of age-related macular degeneration from the intermediate to the advanced stage.

A follow-up trial, called AREDS2, was completed in May 2013. In that study, researchers found that the addition of omega-3 fatty acids to the supplements did not improve the formula’s success. The antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin proved safer than beta-carotene, which increases the risk of lung cancer for smokers or ex-smokers. Thus, the AREDS2 recommendation for the supplement formula is 500 milligrams of vitamin C, 400 international units of vitamin E, 10 milligrams of lutein, 2 milligrams of zeaxanthin, 80 milligrams of zinc, and 2 milligrams of copper.


Disclaimer: The information provided is a public service of the BrightFocus Foundation and is not intended to constitute medical advice. It should not in any way substitute for the advice of a qualified healthcare professional. Please consult your physician for personalized medical advice; all medications and supplements should only be taken under medical supervision. BrightFocus Foundation does not endorse any medical product or therapy.

Last Review: 08/23/13

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