What are the causes of age-related macular degeneration?

Although the cause of AMD is currently not fully understood, a number of risk factors have been identified.

  • Age: the main risk factor for developing AMD
  • Genetics: although there is rarely a hereditary pattern, it is known that people with a family history of macular degeneration have an increased chance of developing the condition
  • Smoking: in a number of studies, smoking has been linked to the development of AMD. It has been shown that stopping smoking can reduce the risk of AMD developing
  • High blood pressure: studies have shown that high blood pressure is linked to the likelihood of developing AMD
  • Diet: the fragile cells of the macula are highly susceptible to damage from oxygen-charged molecules called free radicals. It has been shown that people who have a poor diet (low in fruit and vegetables and high in saturated or hydrogenated fats) and therefore have a low intake of antioxidants (nutrients that fight the damaging effects of free-radicals) may be at an increased risk of developing AMD. Excessive alcohol consumption may also deplete the levels of antioxidants in the body
  • Sunlight: the cells of the macula are highly sensitive to sunlight and cell damage from the sun can lead to deterioration of the macular
  • Gender: women are more susceptible to developing AMD than men

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