Previous research has shown macular degeneration is influenced by environmental and genetic factors. Until recently, it was difficult to determine how much of an impact both factors had on the development of the eye disease.
Macular Degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in people over 55. Recent research in macular degeneration has focused on twins. This would allow the influence of both genetic and environmental factors affecting the development and progression of this eye disease to be determined.
A study published in the journal of Opthalmology examined over 200 male pairs of identical twins. In some cases, both twins had macular degeneration but at different stages. In other cases, only one twin had the eye disease.
Researchers used a questionnaire and their macular degeneration diagnosis to determine which factors had influence on the development of this eye disease.
The study found that the twin with the more advanced version of macular degeneration were more often the heavier smoker. Twins with the eye disease progressing slower than normal reported taking higher forms of nutrients such as betaine and methionine obtained from a diet rich in fish, grains, poultry and dairy products.
According to Dr. Johanna M. Seddon, this points to a strong genetic component associated with macular degeneration. Environmental factors attributed less towards the development of the eye disease.
Researchers indicated there was little that could be done to change the genetic influences over macular degeneration. They were however quick to point out diet and behaviour can reduce the risks associated with macular degeneration and perhaps slow the progression of the eye disease.