The surprising cause of macular degeneration - and how to avoid it

December 18, 2007
Volume 04    |   Issue 51

Are you worried that you?ll lose your eyesight as you age? Do you want to see well enough to drive a car, read a book, or just maintain your independence into your 80s and beyond? If so, then it?s important that you avoid certain people.

That may sound harsh. You have to protect your eyes if you want them to keep working for you. That?s because your eyes are a vulnerable part of your body. And one of the most vulnerable parts of your eye is the macula. The macula is in the center of your retina at the back of your eye. With age, and without sufficient antioxidants, the macula begins to break down.

The macula is particularly sensitive to smoke. That?s why smoking is the most harmful thing you can do to your eye. If you smoke, you?re significantly increasing your risk for macular degeneration. But you could be a non-smoker and taking your antioxidants faithfully and still lose your eyesight.

You see, the second most harmful thing you can do to your eyes is to live with someone who smokes in the house. Second-hand smoke increases your risk for cancer and heart disease. It increases the level of lead in your blood. And it increases your risk for macular degeneration as well.

One effect from exposure to second-hand smoke is that it reduces your supply of antioxidants to your eye. So you could permanently ruin your eyesight just by allowing someone to smoke in the same room as you. Or in your car.

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A recent study found that living with a smoker for five years, with exposure to their second hand smoke, is enough to double your risk for macular degeneration! If you live with someone who smokes, or regularly drive with a smoker, don?t ever allow them to smoke in your house or car.

Since macular degeneration is related to aging, you may want to start to take other preventive action now. My father, who was an optometrist, taught me that it?s never too early to protect your eyes. "You only get one pair," he said. A combination of specific nutrients and lifestyle changes will lower your risk for macular degeneration. Like a diet low in refined sugar and grains. There are many antioxidants that can support good eye health and help prevent such conditions as macular degeneration. Some of them, such as lutein, zeaxanthin, bilberry, and N-acetyl-l-cysteine (NAC), are found in Advanced Vision Formula (Women?s Preferred, 800-728-2288). That?s what I take.

Your voice of reason in Women's Health,


"Smoking and age related macular degeneration: the number of pack years of cigarette smoking is a major determinant of risk for both geographic atrophy and choroidal neovascularisation", Br J Ophthalmol 2006; 90: 73-80.

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