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Health Beat: 5 ways to protect your eyes from aging

VIDEO: Health Beat: 5 ways to protect...

ORLANDO, Fla. - They're smaller than the size of a gum ball, but your eyes play a big role in helping you navigate the world around you. Protect them from aging. First, try exercise. Regular physical activity can reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration by up to 70 percent. Also, shield your eyes from the sun to keep them young.

"Over time, UV light from the sun can cause cataract formations, so wearing sunglasses, I think, is very important," said Dr. Arsham Sheybani, an ophthalmologist at Washington University in St. Louis.

Only buy a pair that blocks 100 percent of UV rays. Next, put down that cigarette. Current and former smokers have up to four times the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration. Smoking also ups your chance of cataracts and uveitis.

The right foods can keep your eyes young, too.

"One of the other things you can consider is actually green, leafy vegetables for macular degeneration," Sheybani said.

Lastly, consider supplements. A National Eye Institute study showed supplements with vitamin C and E, beta-carotene, copper, and zinc slowed the progression of macular degeneration in high-risk patients.

Another important way to protect your eyes is to schedule regular eye exams. If you have a vision problem, an early diagnosis could lead to treatment that can save your sight.

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