Macular degeneration (AMD) is an age-related eye condition that progressively worsens over time. In the U.S. alone, 15 million people suffer from the disease. While there is no cure for AMD, there are certain risk factors that can help determine if you may develop AMD.
Two Types of Macular Degeneration
AMD doesn’t cause total blindness. Instead, it causes central blindness. The macular part of the eye is what is affected. This is what gives you your sharp vision. It is what you use to read, recognize faces, drive, and perform normal daily tasks.
AMD comes in two forms, wet and dry. Currently, there is no treatment for dry AMD, but there is for wet AMD. However, studies are currently underway that will hopefully lead to a treatment for dry AMD in the relatively near future.
Risk Factors of Macular Degeneration
Two recent studies have shown that individuals whose eyes adjust more slowly to darkness are at a greater risk of developing the disease. The study indicates that the longer it takes your eyes to adjust to the dark after you’ve been in bright light the greater your risk you will have AMD later in life.
One study published in the scientific journal, Ophthalmology, developed a simple checklist to help people determine if they are at risk for AMD. The questions included asked those polled if they had difficulties adjusting to a dark theater when entering or if they could read street signs at night. Those that answered yes to all the questions were more likely to develop AMD.
There are other AMD risk factors, as well, including:
- A family history – If one or more of your close family members have AMD, then you have a greater risk of developing the disease, as it can run in families.
- You smoke – Smoking can increase your risk, too. The longer you smoke the higher the risk.
- You’re over 60 years of age – As AMD is an age-related disease, once you reach the age of sixty, your risk increases. Of course, not all seniors develop AMD, but age does play a role in its appearance.
- High blood pressure – High blood pressure can lead to serious health problems, such as a heart attack or a stroke, but it can also affect your eyes. Monitoring your blood pressure is best for your overall health.
- Obesity – Like high blood pressure, obesity can lead to many health issues. It is also a risk factor for AMD. The upside is that this is one risk factor you can control by eating a healthy diet and exercising.
Ways to Reduce Your Risk Factors for AMD
While you can’t change your age or your family history, you can control many of the risk factors for AMD. Here are a few tips to keep your risk level as low as possible.
- Watch your weight
- Watch your blood pressure
- Reduce the amount of processed food you eat
- Reduce the number of artificial fats you consume
- Stop smoking
- Protect your eyes from blue wavelengths
The idea of developing AMD can be frightening, but if you focus on those risk factors that you can control, then your risk will be diminished, and you might just save your eyesight.
Do you or a loved one have AMD? How are you successfully managing your condition. Tell us in the comments below.