AMD Risk Factors

What causes Macular Degeneration?

The exact cause of AMD is as yet unknown, however both genetic and environmental factors play their part. The general consensus at present is that it is a disease of increasing age meaning our risk increases as we grow older; this is particularly important in the over 60’s. A positive family history of AMD may also increase your risk, meaning individuals with a parent or sibling with a positive history should be particularly careful. These are unfortunately unmodifiable risk factors.

The most important modifiable risk factor is smoking. Smokers are significantly more likely to develop AMD in their lifetime with some studies stating it may double the risk, while others suggesting smokers may be 8 times as likely to developed macular disease.

Other risk factors which have been linked to AMD development are:

  • Light iris colour (blue eyes)
  • Ethnicity – White northern European Caucasians are more at risk
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol)
  • Low Macular Protective Pigment Density levels
  • Low levels of antioxidants
  • Excessive exposure to UV light
  • Excessive exposure to high energy visible blue light
  • Damage by free radicals within the eye as a result of oxidative stress

What can I do to reduce my risks?

Some of the risks listed above are non-modifiable risk factors such as age, genetics, female gender, race and light colour iris. However, the remainder are modifiable risk factors which with lifestyle changes can reduce ones risk of developing AMD. Simple advice like quitting smoking could significantly improve the likelihood of long-term healthy vision.

Regular and thorough eye examinations are crucial. We therefore advise anyone worried about their macular health to consider joining our Eye Care for Life programmes. Eye Care for Life allows for frequent eye examinations using our full armoury of technology.