Macular degeneration also known as AMD or ARMD (Age-Related Macular Degeneration) happens to be the leading cause of vision loss and blindness in Americans over 65 years of age. AMD is the degeneration of the macula, a part of the retina. Following are the risk factors for developing this illness. If you feel you might be at risk, check with your ophthalmologist on ways of reducing your risk of being diagnosed with AMD.
Macular degeneration seems to be prevalent in some families and not in others. Having the related genes passed down from relatives increases the susceptibility to the disease. In fact, having a family history of AMD increases the risk of developing it by 50%. But some families inherit and pass on the gene and some do not.
Color Of The Eyes
People who have lighter colored eyes are more likely to develop this illness. This may be because light-pigmented eyes give less protection from the UV rays from the sun.
Smoking increases the risk of developing this illness by two to five times. That is because, retina, as an organ has a high rate of oxygen consumption and anything that impacts oxygen delivery to the retina affects vision. Smoking causes oxidative damage that contributes to the development of this illness and its fast progression.
Uncontrolled Hypertension And High Cholesterol
Having high blood pressure increases your chances of your developing this illness. That is because the eye being a highly vascular organ, has a rich supply of blood vessels, which is why changes in blood pressure affect the eye. If a person is hypertensive and has other cardiovascular illnesses, chances of his developing macular degeneration are high.
Low Levels Of Nutrients
People with low levels of minerals like zinc and antioxidant vitamins like A, C and E, have a greater risk of developing this illness. That is because antioxidants protect the cells from oxidative damage, which is responsible for the effects of aging and macular degeneration.
Women are at a higher risk of developing macular degeneration since there may be a link between menopause and developing AMD. Women who have an early onset of menopause tend to develop macular degeneration sooner. In fact, estrogen may also play a role in this. Also, since women live longer, they are at a risk of developing severe vision loss if they develop this illness.
For some reason, ARMD happens to be the leading cause of blindness in aging Caucasian Americans. The disease seems to be rare in other races. The amount of pigment present in the tissue possibly plays a role.
Unprotected Sun Exposure
Prolonged exposure to the sun without UV protective sunglasses speeds up the development of macular degeneration. Research suggests that people with such an exposure are more prone to developing severe macular degeneration than those without this kind of exposure.
Lack Of Activity
Dry AMD results from the retina not receiving adequate oxygen, which leads to the death of cells in the macula, a part of the retina. It stands to reason then that any form of exercise that improves cardiovascular health may help prevent the development of AMD.
AMD In One Eye
If AMD develops in one of the eyes, chances are high that it will affect the other eye as well.