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Am I at Risk for Macular Degeneration?

Macular Degeneration, Paragon Eye Associates

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a common eye disease that impacts the macula, which is found in the center of your retina and is responsible for your central vision. When the eyes are damaged due to either wet or dry macular degeneration, a person often develops what appears to be a hole in the center of their vision that expands over time. Dry macular degeneration progresses very slowly, while wet macular degeneration can impact the vision quickly. If untreated, both forms will sooner or later take a person's sight.

Even though the cause is unknown and damage can't be reversed, ongoing studies have shown that 12 things make a person more likely to develop macular degeneration. Generally, the more of these that are true for you, the greater your risk. Ask yourself these questions.

1. Are you approaching an advanced age?

Your risk increases dramatically as you age, but not all older people will develop macular degeneration. Around 12% of people ages 66 to 74 have AMD, but that statistic goes up to 36% by the time you reach 75.

2. Do you smoke?

Smoking doesn't just impact the lungs, it also deteriorates the eyes, leading to a significantly increased risk of developing AMD, and it takes up to 20 years to get that risk back down to that of a nonsmoker.

3. Do your relatives have AMD?

Consider the known cases and also those who may not have been diagnosed. Have any of your relatives suffered from vision loss in the middle of their line of sight later in life? They may have also noticed other phenomena like:

In these cases, the AMD may not have advanced to the later stages. If it was AMD, you are at greater risk.

4. Are you female?

More females than males develop macular degeneration during their lifetimes, but this may simply be that females are more likely to live past 75.

5. Is at least one of your parents "white"?

Caucasians are more likely to develop AMD. This is likely due to the fact that lighter-skinned people have less pigmentation in their skin to protect them from harmful ultraviolet rays from the sun.

6. Do you spend long hours in the sun without eye protection?

A strong link exists between sun exposure and AMD, so get some good sunglasses to potentially lower this risk.

7. Is your diet not ideal?

If your diet is low in leafy greens, antioxidants, and good fats while being high in foods with lots of sugar and unhealthy fats, you have an increased chance of developing macular degeneration.

8. Are you obese?

A review of studies that includes over 31,000 people found that those who are obese have a 32% increased risk of developing this condition. The study found that the risk increased by 2% for each additional number on your body mass index (BMI).

9. Do you have high blood pressure?

High blood pressure narrows the blood vessels, which reduces blood flow to the eyes and starves them of vital nutrients and oxygen, leading to AMD.

10. Do you have light-colored eyes?

Even if you have more pigment in your skin, you may still have light eyes, which makes your eyes more susceptible to UV damage.

11. Do you live a mostly sedentary lifestyle?

Not getting regular exercise reduces the efficiency of the lungs and circulatory system, which, just like high blood pressure, starves the eye of nutrients.

12. Do you already have AMD in one eye?

This condition may only impact one eye at first, but the other is likely to follow.

How the doctors at Paragon Eye Associates treat macular degeneration

Macular degeneration isn't curable, but it can be treated with a periodic injection that slows, or even stops, the progression of the disease as long as the patient continues the injections. With continued treatment, some patients even see improvements in their vision. Additionally, your doctor may recommend a photocoagulation surgery to treat wet macular degeneration by repairing the detached retina caused by the condition and stopping the progression of the abnormal blood vessels that cause wet macular degeneration.

Have you been screened for AMD yet? Contact Paragon Eye Associates today.

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