Are You at Risk for Macular Degeneration?

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The estimated number of Americans with age-related macular degeneration, or AMD, is expected to reach 5.44 million by 2050. Also called AMD, this condition is the most common cause of vision loss over 70. However, it can be identified in at-risk patients decades before vision loss becomes noticeable, and treatment to prevent vision loss from AMD has been around for 20 years. 

With this in mind, understanding the risk factors of macular degeneration is important to protecting your vision, both now and throughout older age. If you are at risk for macular degeneration, visiting your eye doctor for annual exams will ensure that any signs of the condition are identified and addressed as soon as possible. 

Risk Factors for Macular Degeneration

The main risk factors for macular degeneration include:

  • Age

The largest risk factor for macular degeneration is age. This condition becomes more prevalent after the age of 50 and affects over 14% of white Americans over the age of 80. 

  • Gender

Women have a slightly higher risk of developing macular degeneration. While the onset of macular degeneration may be linked to menopause, women also often live longer than men. AMD is more likely to cause vision loss with advancing age. 

  • Race

Macular degeneration is much more common among white individuals. It can occur in people of other races, though it’s far less likely. 

  • Family history

A family history of macular degeneration may indicate that you have a higher risk of developing the condition. People with family members who have AMD should be sure to attend annual vision checks and closely consider other risk factors. 

  • Smoking

Smoking has been shown to increase the risk of macular degeneration. This is likely because smoking contributes to blood vessel problems, which largely contribute to AMD. 

  • Unprotected sun exposure

Spending a lot of time in the sun without sunglasses that protect the eyes against UV rays can speed up the progression of AMD. 

  • Heart disease and high blood pressure

These and other cardiovascular conditions can boost your risk of macular degeneration, given that this condition is linked to vascular changes in the eyes. 

To schedule your annual vision check and learn about the treatments available for macular degeneration, book an appointment at The Eye Clinic of Florida today!