Risk Factors For Developing Macular Degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) & risk factors for development and progression of the disease

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a common eye condition and a leading cause of vision loss among people age 50 and older. It causes damage to the macula of the retina. Macula plays important role in our ability to see is needed for sharp, central vision, which lets us see objects that are straight ahead.

Commonly known risk factors for developing macular degeneration:

Aging. Significant vision loss due to progression of AMD increases from fewer than 1 percent among people in their 60s to more than 15 percent among people in their 90s, according to the Canadian Medical Association Journal (February 2004).

Smoking. Research shows that smoking doubles the risk of AMD. People living with a smoker double their risk of developing AMD.

Obesity and inactivity. Overweight patients with macular degeneration had more than double the risk of developing advanced forms of macular degeneration compared with people of normal body weight.  Those who performed vigorous activity at least three times weekly reduced their risk of developing advanced AMD, compared with inactive patients (Archives of Ophthalmology June 2003).

Race. AMD is more common among Caucasians than among African-Americans or Hispanics/Latinos.

Family history and Genetics. People with a family history of AMD are at higher risk.   Heredity is a factor in who develops AMD and how severe it becomes.

High blood pressure (hypertension). High blood pressure may be associated with increased risk of developing macular degeneration (Investigative Ophthalmology and Vision Science, September 2003).

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