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What Are the Risk Factors for Macular Degeneration?

By Gordon Wong, OD on September 11, 2015


A pair of glasses sitting on top of an eye chartAt GW Eye Associates, Inc., we offer a comprehensive range of treatments for eye disorders of virtually all types, including macular degeneration. Macular degeneration is a condition in which the macula, the center of the retina, begins to deteriorate. As this deterioration occurs, a person’s central vision becomes progressively worse. Eventually, a blind spot in the center of one’s field of vision will develop and, if the condition is left untreated, widen.

While macular degeneration cannot be cured, and the effects of macular degeneration cannot be reversed, the condition can effectively be managed and its progression can be slowed. However, effective treatment depends on timely diagnosis. This means that patients must be aware of the symptoms of the disorder, as well as the risk factors. Our eye doctors discuss macular degeneration risk factors in detail during consultations at our San Diego eye care practice so that patients can be aware of their risk for developing the condition.

Who is at risk for macular degeneration?

There are some risk factors for macular degeneration that you can control and some that you cannot. As with all issues related to your health, you are advised to put the odds of staying healthy in your favor as well as you can.

Risk factors for macular degeneration include:

  • Age: Advanced age is the number-one risk factor for macular degeneration; obviously, this is also a risk factor that cannot be controlled. People aged 60 and above are at significantly higher risk of developing the condition than people under the age of 60. People over the age of 75 face a roughly 30 percent risk of developing macular degeneration.
  • Smoking: If you smoke, your risk of developing macular degeneration is about two to three times higher than if you had never smoked. The good news is that if you stop, your risk will drop.
  • Obesity: If you are overweight, your risk of developing macular degeneration is about twice as much as if you were at your ideal weight. Again, if you lose weight, your risk will be much lower.
  • Family history: Unfortunately, if macular degeneration runs in your family, your risk is higher, a risk factor beyond your control.
  • Race: Caucasians are at higher risk of developing macular degeneration than other races.
  • Exposure to the blue wavelengths from the sun: People tend to think of the sun’s UV rays as being the only rays capable of causing damage; however, it is the blue wavelengths that cause damage to the macula.
  • Cardiovascular disease: People with prior cardiovascular disease are at higher risk of developing macular degeneration.
  • Poor diet: Cutting down on the processed foods and upping your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables can lower your risk of macular degeneration.
  • High cholesterol: Lower that bad cholesterol, and again, you can lower your risk of macular degeneration.

Learn More about the Risk Factors for Macular Degeneration

To learn more about the risk factors for macular degeneration, or to schedule your initial consultation with one of our eye doctors, please contact GW Eye Associates, Inc. today.

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Dr. Wong and his staff have proven to be the best eye doctor that I have ever visited. He is extremely thorough and up-to-date professionally. He gives you plenty of time. I never feel rushed.

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