Macular Degeneration: Natural Home Treatment

Macular degeneration is an eye disease wherein the macula deteriorates. The macula is the central portion of the retina that records images we see and relays them to the brain along the optic nerve.

With age-related macular degeneration (otherwise known as dry AMD), cells and blood vessels become thinner and break down, causing gradual vision loss. The vision impairment begins in the central portion of your visual field and expands over time.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?

In the early stages you may not have symptoms; regular checkups are important.

  • Blurred vision
  • Central vision impairment
  • Color perception changes
  • Dark blurry areas
  • Straight lines appear wavy

WHAT ARE THE RISK FACTORS?

  • Cardiovascular problems
  • Diabetes
  • Gender (women are more at risk)
  • Genetics
  • Race (Caucasians are more likely to develop the disease)
  • Smoking (doubles your risk)

ALLOPATHIC TREATMENT

The best ways to reduce risk or slow progression is to make lifestyle changes. There is no recognized cure. Some possible treatments may include laser surgery, medications, or photodynamic therapy.

SELF TREATMENT

DIET

A healthy immune system is always the first line of defense against any kind of physical disorder, including vision disorders. To promote a healthy immune system, it is important to eat a balanced diet, with as much variety as you can manage, with lots of whole, fresh vegetables and fruits, quality protein and healthy sources of monounsaturated fat. The Zone is an excellent nutrition plan.

FOODS THAT SUPPORT EYE HEALTH

  • Adequate fiber for digestive health
  • Anti-inflammatory foods (see Inflammation)
  • Bananas (potassium)
  • Blueberries (lutein)
  • Bone broth
  • Butternut squash
  • Collards
  • Corn
  • Edamame
  • Foods high in Omega 3’s like cold-water fish
  • Grapes
  • If you aren’t an alcoholic, enjoy a glass of wine
  • Kale (carotenoids)
  • Orange vegetables are high in beta-carotene (precursor to Vitamin A) which is good for eye health.
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Tangerines
  • Vitamin C-rich foods
  • Walnuts (linolenic acid)

FOODS AND OTHER SUBSTANCES TO REDUCE OR ELIMINATE

  • Cured meats
  • Excess alcohol
  • Excessive caffeine
  • Excessive intake of Omega 6 fats
  • Fried foods
  • Junk food
  • Processed sugars
  • Refined carbohydrates like pastries, breads and snack foods
  • Smoking
  • Trans fats

TEAS AND OTHER LIQUIDS

  • Coconut water
  • Green tea
  • Vegetable juices (fresh)

HERBS AND SPICES

  • Ginkgo biloba
  • Moringa leaf

ESSENTIAL OILS

Essential oils can be administered via a diffuser for inhalation, administered topically in a carrier oil (coconut, almond, olive, etc.), or undiluted drops can be added to a hot bath or compress. You might put some drops in carrier oil and rub them on the skin around your eyes, but keep them out of your eyes. Find recipes for blends on the web or create your own.

  • Cypress
  • Frankincense
  • Helichrysum
  • Juniper oil
  • Lavender
  • Peppermint
  • Rosemary
  • Sandalwood

OTHER SUBSTANCES AND SUPPLEMENTS

  • Astaxanthin
  • Bilberry
  • Copper
  • Folate
  • Ginkgo biloba extract
  • Grapeseed extract
  • Green tea extract
  • Lutein
  • Lycopene
  • Omega 3’s
  • Taurine
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin E
  • Zeaxanthin
  • Zinc oxide

HYDRATION

Water is essential and a main nutrient for the human body. Hydration is just as important to your eyes as it is to your body. How much is enough? There are so many differences in people (i.e., how much we sweat), as well as the diets we consume (a lot of water comes from healthy, whole foods), but a general rule is to consume enough water that your urine is clear, but not so much that you dilute your nutrients. If you are taking certain supplements that make your urine yellow, then you can start out with the formula of drinking ½ to one ounce of water for each pound you weigh. If you weigh 130 pounds, drink 65 to 130 ounces of water a day. Definitely drink when you are thirsty.

EXERCISE

For eye exercises, see http://www.seeing.org/techniques/index.html. That exercise is beneficial for overall health is undisputed. Exercise helps to combat inflammation and increase blood flow, among its many other advantages, and both are important for your eyes.

SLEEP

Studies show that lack of quality sleep affects the production of disease-fighting antibodies. If you wake in the morning after 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep feeling unrested, you aren’t getting enough sleep or you have an underlying health condition.

EMOTIONAL SUPPORT

Stay calm. Anxiety undermines health, including eye health. Practice relaxation exercises, talk to a friend, meditate. Do what works for you to stay mellow. Some of the following relaxation methods may be helpful for you:

OTHER THINGS YOU CAN DO

  • Amsler Grid
  • Avoid blue light; use blue blocking glasses for computer work and TV.
  • Eye exercises
  • In the sun, wear UV-blocking glasses.
  • Use adequate illumination when reading

ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES

PREVENTION

  • A wholesome, balanced diet
  • Adequate hydration
  • Regular exercise
  • Low stress levels
  • Quality sleep
  • Don’t smoke.
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