Macular degeneration is a condition characterised by retinal damage that can cause loss of central vision. Understanding what can cause AMD is very important to know if you are at risk for it because there are precautions that can be taken to avoid damage from AMD.

Family history

If you have an immediate family member with macular degeneration, it increases your risk of getting that condition as well.


Caucasians are at the greatest risk of developing AMD and going blind due to macular degeneration. One third of white people carry a gene related to macular degeneration, and those with light colored eyes are more likely to develop dry AMD.


When you smoke, you definitely increase your chances of developing macular degeneration.

UV rays

You may develop a variety of eye conditions including macular degeneration if you live in areas with bright sunlight and are out all the time. So it certainly doesn't help with the macula either. Essentially, our eyes are magnifiers themselves. When we are outside in the sun, our eyes magnify all that light into our eyes. In addition to having UV protection for light entering from the front of your glasses, it is actually important to also have protection on the back surface of your lenses. When we make glasses for our patients, especially sunglasses and clear glasses, we apply a UV coating to the back surface. It's easy to forget that there's still a lot of reflection coming from the back, which reflects back into our eyes.  If it comes from the back, it's not going to be filtered until we put on the backside coating.


Research shows that someone who is obese is at a slightly increased risk of developing macular degeneration. However for someone with macular degeneration, the risks are much higher, as obesity has been shown to significantly increase the risk that earlier stages of macular degeneration will progress to later stages. Since later stages of macular degeneration leads to permanent vision loss, it is very important that someone who has macular degeneration is careful about managing their weight.

Cardiovascular Disease

There is a high correlation between macular degeneration and heart disease with a major study in Taiwan that showed a significant association between the two. However scientific studies have not shown definitively whether there is a causal relationship between the two.


Age is the biggest risk factor for macular degeneration, and the reason it is called Age Related Macular Degeneration. Typically, around the age of 60 is when we start to see signs of macular degeneration, but it doesn't mean that those signs cannot be apparent earlier or later than that. But on average, it usually happens around that age. Age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in adults over 60. Between ages 50 and 60, diabetic retinopathy is actually the leading cause of blindness.


A diet high in fish, eggs, and leafy green vegetables increases the amount of cartenoids found in the retina. These cartenoids, namely Lutein and Zeaxanthin, have been shown to reduce the progression of macular degeneration. For someone that has a diet that lacks these food groups in proper proportions, there may be an increased risk, especially if they have early stage macular degeneration.

Schedule your visit with our eye doctors for a comprehensive medical eye exam at our state-of-the-art optometry clinic in Bellflower, serving patients from the surrounding areas including Long Beach, Lakewood, and Los Angeles. Call (562) 925-6591 or fill out this form to make an appointment today.
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