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Research into Age-related Macular Degeneration

Macular Degeneration – Are You At Risk?

As you age, your risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD) dramatically increases. Development can start in your 40’s, and increases with each decade. By 75, there’s a 1 in 3 chance of developing this progressive eye disease that can rob you of central vision.

Simple handdrawn illustration of 3 figures. One in orange is singled out by a black arrow with text that reads AMD (age-related macular degeneration) can start BEFORE you notice any changes in your vision. www.macular.org and the American Macular Degeneration Foundation logo across the bottom.

What’s important to know is that AMD begins developing long before you have noticeable symptoms. At age 40, regular visits to your eye care provider are recommended, especially if there is a family history of AMD.

To optimize your chances of preserving your vision for as long as possible, you will want to understand the various risk factors, and what YOU can do to reduce them.

Some risk factors are out of your control, such as genetic predisposition. But there are MANY factors you CAN control.

Risk Factors

First, there is a significant genetic component to AMD. If there is a family history of macular degeneration, you should know. Ask your older family members if they’ve been diagnosed with macular degeneration, and what type.

In addition to a genetic predisposition, many lifestyle factors increase your risk of developing macular degeneration. These include:

  • Increased age 50+ (by age 75, 1 in 3 people are at risk)
  • Smoking
  • Sun exposure
  • Obesity (BMI ≥30)
  • Poor diet (higher fat intakes, higher dietary glycemic index, higher intake of processed foods, low intake of important nutrients such as omega 3’s, vitamins, carotenoids, etc.)
  • Hypertension
  • Lack of exercise

What You Can Do

The list above is somewhat self-explanatory! While you cannot control your age, or family history of AMD, you can empower yourself by:

  • Educating yourself about AMD
  • Alerting your eye care provider to your family history if there is any
  • Monitoring your vision using the Amsler Grid and other tools
  • Adopting healthy and controllable lifestyle habits such as: quitting smoking, exercising, adopting an AMD Diet, controlling your weight, addressing hypertension, and wearing protective eyewear in the sun.


Here are some resources to get you started on taking care of your long-term vision.