A vibrant sunset, the smile on a loved ones face or a bouquet of flowers. These are all welcome sights – but have you ever stopped to think about what you would do if you couldn’t see them anymore? One Healthy Nevada Project participant did when he found out he’s at risk for developing an eye disease that can lead to vision loss as he ages.
Danny DeLaRosa participated in the Healthy Nevada Project, a first-of-its-kind, community-based, population health study offering Nevada residents the opportunity to learn their ancestry, traits and genetic risks to various medical conditions. He didn’t anticipate putting in place immediate lifestyle changes as a result of this simple saliva test. But, his DNA findings revealed his increased genetic risk for developing macular degeneration, an eye disease which can lead to vision loss as he ages.
Macular degeneration was a familiar condition in DeLaRosa’s family, so his genetic predisposition caused him to research it further, especially how to prevent the condition’s grim prognosis of worsening vision loss. He learned a healthy diet was key in preserving his vision. “I was really able to adjust my diet, add in a few more green things and in a few more orange things, carrots … to really focus on having good eye health.”
The main risk factor for macular degeneration is age, so DeLaRosa is taking a proactive approach on regular health screenings. He also notified his doctor about his condition and stays on top of annual physicals, paying special attention to his eye health. According to the American Macular Degeneration Foundation other risk factors are:
- Genetics – People with a family history of AMD are at a higher risk.
- Race – Caucasians are more likely to develop the disease than African-Americans or Hispanics/Latinos.
- Smoking – Smoking doubles the risk of AMD.
Danny DeLaRosa’s passion for mountain biking is also a driving factor in his newfound focus on eye health. “Mountain biking is a way to completely get away,” says DeLaRosa. “You have to be in the moment, you have to be aware and you have to be assessing what’s in front of you and how you are going to attack it. Really important to that is good eyesight.”
“When I saw that eye health was a potential risk for me long term it really felt like it put that at jeopardy,” he continues. “That’s why I dove into it immediately. I found out what I could do to make a difference for my health long-term and I implemented those things so that one day you’ll see me on the trail and I can tell you I’ve been doing it for 30 plus years.”