Risk Factors for Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration is an eye disease that can cause loss of central vision due to damage of the retina. It's very important to understand what can cause this condition in order to know if you are at risk for AMD because there are precautions that can be taken to avoid damage from this disease.

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Age: This condition is the most common above age 60, hence the name age-related macular degeneration. About 2% of people in their 50s have AMD and approximately a third of those aged 75+ have the disease.

Race: Caucasians are at highest risk for developing AMD and for going blind from macular degeneration. Approximately a third of white people have a gene linked to macular degeneration and people with light colored eyes have a higher chance of developing dry AMD.

Genetics: Family history is important because if you have a first degree relative who has AMD then you have three times as high a chance of developing the condition yourself.

Smoking: People who smoke are up to four times more likely to get macular degeneration than those who have never smoked. This is attributed to the fact that smoking reduces the amount of oxygen that reaches different parts of the body, including the eyes.

Other health conditions: There are various health conditions such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, obesity, or diabetic retinopathy that could increase the chances of having macular degeneration. Please make sure to provide all of your medical history to your eye doctor who can guide you what the best steps are to protect your eye health.

Gender: Approximately two thirds of those with macular degeneration are women. There is a possible correlation with the fact that generally women live longer.

If you have any of these risk factors, you can reach out to your nearest Specialty Vision practice either via a call or in-person visit. The team of eye care professionals is ready and equipped to provide you with the care you need. They will provide you with an accurate diagnosis and guide you as to what your best options are.

Common Questions

It’s important to have an understanding of the risk factors involved with this disease because some are within our control but not all are. However, just being aware of what raises the chances of developing AMD can help you stay one step ahead of this disease and to do your best to take the precautions that can protect you from vision loss. For example, one way of lowering your risk is to never start smoking or to quit this habit. Thankfully, there are many wonderful resources to help you quit smoking so please don’t hesitate to ask your healthcare provider about the available options. On the other hand, we don’t have the luxury of controlling our genetic composition. Knowing your family history and getting checked by your eye doctor can give you insight on certain precautions that can be taken. It also can enable early detection which is crucial in preserving your eyesight. For people who are at high risk for developing the rare form of wet AMD, there is a supplement filled with vitamins and minerals which can help lower the risk by 25%. Please don’t hesitate to discuss the available options with your eye doctor in order to preserve your vision and eye health.
The most common form of blindness related to smoking is macular degeneration. Smoking is the main risk factor of AMD which is in our control to change. It prevents oxygen and necessary nutrients from being able to reach your retina. Therefore, smoking is responsible for increasing your chances of developing AMD by up to four times the amount of risk compared to a non-smoker. It is strongly recommended to quit smoking and your health care provider can recommend various effective methods to quit. If you smoke and have already been diagnosed with AMD, quitting this habit can lower the damage that macular degeneration can cause.
Risk Factors for Macular Degeneration
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There are many factors that can cause macular degeneration and it’s essential to be aware of what they are. If you have any concerns of your chances of developing this disease, please schedule an appointment with our eye doctor who will be happy to discuss this important topic with you and to guide you as to what your best options are.

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