Macular Degeneration Risk Factors

Many of the findings regarding the risk factors associated with age-related macular degeneration (AMD or ARMD) have been disputed through a variety of research.  The only risk factors consistently associated with with this eye disease have been age and smoking.  There are however, several other risk factors associated with the eye disease macular degeneration.

The more common factors associated with age-related macular degeneration (AMD or ARMD) include:

  • Aging;
  • Smoking;
  • High blood pressure (Hypertension);
  • Heredity;
  • Obesity and inactivity;
  • Gender; and
  • Diet

The most significant of these risk factors associated with macular degeneration are aging and smoking.  The effects of aging are become more pronounced as individuals get older.  After the age of 50, the risks associated with macular degeneration begin to increase.  Smoking is a major risk factor, causing severe vision loss in approximately 25% of all macular degeneration cases.  In 2006, a study showed that people living with someone who smoked doubled their chances of being diagnosed with the eye disease macular degeneration.  (British Journal of Ophthalmology).

Studies have also shown that high blood pressure or hypertension may also increase the risk of AMD.  As well, those people who are inactive and overweight were more than double the risk of developing advanced forms of age related macular degeneration (Archives of Ophthalmology, 2003).  Regular exercise at least 3 times a week have been shown to reduce the risks associated with age related macular degeneration.

Gender also plays a role, primarily because women live longer than men and age is one of the most significant causes of AMD.

Heredity has also been shown to play a significant role into whether you are at risk of macular degeneration.  People whose relatives have been diagnosed with the eye disease are 50 percent as likely to develop the macular degeneration versus just 12 percent for those who have no family member with a history.  Individuals with family members who have been diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration should make it a point to seek regular eye examinations and notify their doctor that they may be at higher risk of the eye disease.

People who have diets that are saturated in fats are also at a higher risk of being diagnosed with macular degeneration.

It is important to keep in mind that with all these associated risk factors, anybody can be diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration.  Regular eye examinations are imperative, especially when you reach the age of 50 and beyond.  Just because you may not be considered a high risk for macular degeneration, proper eye care is crucial.

If you are in a higher risk category, familiarity with the associated risks of macular degeneration is important.  With some of the risk factors of this eye disease founded in diet and habits such as smoking, lowering the risk of macular degeneration can be accomplished through lifestyle changes.