Macular Degeneration Causes

The exact cause of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is unknown. Many studies have been done to identify AMD risk factors, however. The following are known to be, or strongly suspected of being, risk factors for age-related macular degeneration (AMD):

Age
Age itself is a risk factor for AMD. In fact, people between the ages of 65 and 74 have a 1-in-5 chance of developing the disease. Over the age of 75, the chance increases to nearly 1-in-3.

Smoking
Studies have shown links between cigarette smoking and increased risk of both “wet” and “dry” AMD. Current heavy smoking is associated with a 2- to 3-fold increased risk of AMD with vision loss.

Genetics
Family history appears to play a role in AMD. Therefore, people with relatives with the disease should be especially vigilant about having their eyes tested. The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) recommends that patients who have blood relatives with AMD have their eyes checked every 2 years.

Sun Exposure
According to the AAO, studies show that repeated exposure to the sun’s rays can contribute to eye disorders that commonly develop as we age, such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts.

Gender, Race
AMD is more common in women than in men. Whites are more susceptible to AMD than are people of other races.

Poor Nutrition
Poor nutrition can play a role in the development of common eye diseases. The good news: supplements containing antioxidants and zinc may reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and vision loss.

Other Eye Diseases
Studies show that people with cataracts, glaucoma, and farsightedness have a greater risk of developing AMD.

High Cholesterol
Elevated serum cholesterol levels have been shown to increase the risk of AMD.

High Blood Pressure
Hypertension is also a risk factor associated with AMD, studies show.

What can be done to reduce the risk of developing AMD?
The role of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in the prevention of AMD was the subject of a National Eye Institute-funded study called AREDS (the Age-Related Eye Disease Study).

AREDS showed that people at high risk of developing advanced AMD reduced their risk of vision loss by 25 percent when they took high levels of certain antioxidants and zinc.

Because vitamin supplements were also shown to be effective in with those intermediate AMD or with advanced AMD in 1 eye, the study demonstrated the importance of knowing your eye health status.

There are a number of vitamin supplements on the market today that are specially formulated to promote eye health and help prevent vision loss due to AMD and other diseases. Check with your doctor to see if supplements are an appropriate course of therapy for you.

Remember, the best way to ensure better eye health is through regular tests for glaucoma, cataracts, and, of course, age-related macular degeneration (AMD). So if you’re overdue for a visit to your eyecare specialist, schedule an appointment soon.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Loss of central vision. This may be gradual for those with the dry type. Patients with the wet type may experience a sudden decrease of the central vision.
  • Difficulty reading or performing tasks that require the ability to see detail.
  • Distorted vision (Straight lines such as a doorway or the edge of a window may appear wavy or bent.)