Macular degeneration, or AMD, is the leading cause of severe vision loss in the U.S. for people 50 and older. In fact, given the size of the aging Baby Boomer population, experts predict that AMD will reach epidemic proportions in less than 15 years.
Unfortunately there is no cure for AMD, so knowing risk factors and sharing them with your eye care professionals is critical, especially as you approach your fifties and beyond. For patients with AMD, early detection has a significant impact on disease progression and vision loss.
Following are some of the risk factors for AMD. As you can see some are genetic, but others are environmental and within your control.
Age. People 55 years and older are at greater risk.
Race. Caucasians develop the disease at a higher rate than other races.
Genetics. People with a family history of AMD have greater risk than those without.
Smoking. Research shows the more people smoke, the more likely they are to develop AMD.
UV exposure. UV light, and blue light, can damage the retina, the part of the eye effected by AMD.
Unchecked cardiovascular disease or high blood pressure. Research indicates a correlation between cardiovascular disease and AMD. The two share common risk factors, such as smoking, poor diet and lack of exercise.
Because symptoms in the early stages of AMD often go unnoticed, regular comprehensive eye exams are the best defense for addressing the disease. Make sure we are aware of your risk factors, especially family history.