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Lifestyle Changes to Manage Macular Degeneration

The content below is part of the “Health Library” and is not indicative of services available at the facility.

If you have been diagnosed with macular degeneration, you can make some changes that will help you manage your environment with low vision.

You can make your home a safer place by taking these steps:

  • Brighten your space with overhead and under-cabinet lighting. Experiment with different types of bulbs to see which work best for you.
  • Reduce glare with curtains and blinds.
  • Keep an open flow to rooms by rearranging furniture that may hinder movement.
  • Use contrasting colors in the bathroom so it is easier to see large items, such as the bathtub, toilet, or sink.
  • If you have area rugs, make sure they are taped or tacked down.
  • In stairwells use bright lights and identify the top and bottom steps with different colors.
  • Install handrails in bathrooms and in stairwells.

Daily life with macular degeneration may be difficult. Follow these suggestions to help make your daily tasks easier:

  • When you are reading or using a computer, use large text options or extra spacing between letters when you can. If you still have difficulty, use audio books when possible. More ideas for using a computer can be found at the Macular degeneration Partnership.
  • Organize your household items and keep them in the same place so they are easier to find.
  • Try using large stickers on your stove or thermostat so they are easier to use and navigate.
  • Use magnifiers or telescopes.

For most people, driving defines their independence. If your low vision is causing problems when you drive, you may have to make some adjustments. It doesn't mean you have to turn in your keys permanently. Take these steps:

  • Plan your driving for daylight hours. Avoid driving at dawn and dusk, or after dark.
  • Monitor weather and traffic conditions.
  • Ask your family or friends for help when you need it.
  • Consider taking a driver's education course to improve driving skills.

Telescopic lenses are mounted inside the lenses in your glasses. They work by magnifying, much like a telescope or binoculars. With magnification, tasks such as needlework, movie watching, or other daily tasks may be more manageable. In some states, telescopic lenses are legal for driving. If you are unsure, contact your state motor vehicle department.

If you are having difficulty adjusting to life with low vision, call your eye doctor. You may be referred to a low vision specialist who can help you make the changes you need to manage your life with macular degeneration.

If you have been diagnosed with macular degeneration, the following lifestyle changes may help keep your eyes healthy. In some cases, these changes may even slow the progression of macular degeneration. Ask your doctor which lifestyle changes may be appropriate for you.

Antioxidant vitamins and zinc may reduce the risk of vision loss caused by certain forms of adult macular degeneration. Talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian about vitamin and mineral supplementation.

Smoking can be harmful to the eye just as it is to the rest of the body. If you smoke, talk with your doctor about how you can quit.

Revision Information

  • Age-related eye disease research study group. A randomized, placebo-controlled, clinical trial of high-dose supplementation with vitamins C and E, beta carotene, and zinc for age-related macular degeneration and vision loss: AREDS report no. 8. Arch Ophthalmol. 2001;119(10):1417-1436.

  • Age-related eye disease study 2 research group. Lutein + zeaxanthin and omega-3 fatty acids for age-related macular degeneration: the Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2 (AREDS2) randomized clinical trial. JAMA. 2013;309(19):2005-2015.

  • Age-related macular degeneration (AMD). EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114486/Age-related-macular-degeneration-AMD. Updated May 27, 2016. Accessed November 28, 2016.

  • Home & personal safety. Bright Focus Foundation website. Available at: http://www.brightfocus.org/macular/home-safety. Updated April 26, 2013. Accessed November 28, 2016.

  • Living with AMD. Macular Degeneration Partnership website. Available at: http://www.amd.org/living-with-amd. Accessed November 28, 2016.

  • SanGiovanni JP, Chew EY, Clemons TE, et al. The relationship of dietary lipid intake and age-related macular degeneration in a case-control study: AREDS Report No 20. Arch Ophthalmol. 2007;125A(5):671-679.

  • 4/7/2014 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114486/Age-related-macular-degeneration-AMD: US Preventive Services Task Force. Screening for impaired visual acuity in older adults: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendation statement. Ann Intern Med. 2009;151(1):37-43.

  • 3/11/2013 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114486/Age-related-macular-degeneration-AMD: Christen WG, Glynn RJ, Sesso HD, et al. Vitamins E and C and medical record-confirmed age-related macular degeneration in a randomized trial of male physicians. Ophthalmology. 2012;119(8):1642-1649.