How Your Lifestyle Affects Your Retinal Health

Submitted by Elman Retina Group on February 3, 2019

How lifestyle affects retinal healthA healthy, functioning retina is essential for sharp, clear vision. While some factors that affect retinal health are out of your control (e.g., genetics, aging), there are plenty of ways you can minimize your risk of retinal diseases.

Elman Retina Group is committed to helping you enjoy a lifetime of healthy vision. With over 30 years of experience diagnosing and treating vision disorders that affect the retina, Dr. Michael J. Elman is the trusted choice for patients in Baltimore and the surrounding area.

Here, he explains how your lifestyle impacts retinal health.


Smoking affects various aspects of your health, and your vision is no exception. Studies have found that smokers are three times more likely to develop age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a disease characterized by the deterioration of the center of the retina known as the macula, than nonsmokers.

Smoking is the biggest controllable risk factor for AMD. Experts say quitting smoking at any age can reduce the risk of developing AMD.

Sun Protection

Research shows overexposure to the sun’s UV rays is linked to eye damage, and it increases the risk of many eye diseases and conditions. You can protect your eyes by wearing sunglasses that offer 100 percent UV protection. Sunglasses that are close-fitting and wraparound offer the most protection.

Exercise and Diet

A study published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology found that individuals who walked at least two miles a day, three times a week were 70 percent less likely to develop AMD than individuals who practiced a more sedentary lifestyle.

Similarly, research has found that eating foods high in eye-friendly nutrients, such as zeaxanthin and lutein, minimizes the risk of developing AMD and other retinal problems.  The AREDS and AREDS 2 studies were large trials that showed that supplements (Preservision II) can protect eyes at risk for progression to vision loss from AMD. The Elman Retina Group is proud to have served in a leadership role in these NIH-supported national clinical trials.

Protective Eyewear

Every year, thousands of Americans visit the emergency room due to eye-related injuries. Perhaps even more surprisingly, researchers estimate that up to 90 percent of all eye injuries can be prevented with protective eyewear. Wearing proper protective goggles or other appropriate eyewear when working, playing sports or doing housework can protect the eyes and help you avoid complications, including retinal detachment.

Protect Your Eyes with Elman Retina Group

In addition to practicing healthy lifestyle habits, you should also get your eyes examined regularly. A board-certified ophthalmologist or retina specialist like Dr. Elman can thoroughly examine the inner structures of the eye and check for disease or visual problems.

To discuss your vision concerns or schedule a routine eye exam, please contact Elman Retina Group by calling (410) 686-3000 today.