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Do Your Parents Have AMD? Start Protecting Yourself Now

Have one or both of your parents recently been diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration? This disease does have a genetic component. So, as a child of someone with macular degeneration, your risk of developing the condition is higher than someone whose parents don't have it. That does not necessarily mean you're doomed to developing AMD, however. There are many lifestyle factors that can also contribute to the condition, so there are changes you can make to decrease your risk. Start protecting yourself now by following these rules:

Don't smoke

Smoking greatly increases your risk of developing AMD. If you're not a smoker, don't start. If you are a smoker, talk to your physician to learn more about the best ways to quit. Many people find success when they join support groups, undergo hypnotherapy, or use prescription medications to make smoking less appealing.

Always wear your sunglasses

Get in the habit of never stepping outside without your sunglasses. UV exposure increases the risk of AMD, and as someone who is already predisposed to the condition, you can't afford to take this chance! Purchase a good pair of UV-blocking sunglasses through your eye doctor. In fact, buy two pairs and keep a spare in your vehicle.

Get your omega-3s

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for reducing inflammation. AMD has an inflammatory component, so increasing your intake of omega-3 fatty acids may help protect against the condition. Eating fish at least twice per week is a good way to get your omega-3s. Flax seed and walnuts are also good sources. Toss some ground flax seed in your oatmeal or smoothies, and eat a handful of walnuts as a snack.

Get plenty of exercise

Obesity is a huge risk factor for AMD. A good way to keep your weight down is by staying active. You don't have to train for marathon (though that's certainly an option if you love running). Taking a walk around the block each morning, joining a baseball league, or even taking dance lessons can help boost your activity levels.

Control your diabetes

If you're a diabetic, keeping your blood sugar closely regulated will decrease your chances of developing AMD. Make sure you visit your doctor often and follow the recommended dietary protocol to the letter. If you're not a diabetic, keep your risk of diabetes – and AMD – down by eating a healthy diet and maintaining a healthy weight.

Just because your parents have AMD does not necessarily mean you will develop it. Take these precautions to protect your eyes. Also remember to schedule regular eye exams so that if you do develop AMD, it is caught early.