Risk factors for macular degeneration

Published on
May 10, 2022


In Americans 60 and older, macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss.

The condition known as advanced age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness and visual impairment across the globe.

Macular degeneration affects the center of the back portion of your eye called your macula, which can lead to a loss of central vision. There are two forms of macular degeneration: the dry form and the more severe wet form. 


What are the risk factors for macular degeneration?

There are several risk factors for macular degeneration.

Age: The biggest risk factor is your age. If you're over 60, you're at a higher risk of developing macular degeneration.

Ethnicity: Race is a risk factor as well. You are at greater risk if you are caucasian, and specifically if you are a caucasian female with lighter colored eyes.

Family history: Your family history is also a risk factor. Macular degeneration is more likely to affect you if your siblings, parents, or grandparents have it. 

Smoking: Another risk factor is smoking. If you're a smoker, this places you at a four times greater risk of developing macular degeneration than a patient who has never smoked. It also increases your chances of progressing to more severe forms of macular degeneration. The reason is that smoking prevents certain oxygen and other nutrients from getting to your macula, resulting in macula degeneration. 

Gender: Women account for about two thirds of those diagnosed with macular degeneration. This may be related to the fact that women generally live longer.

Other health conditions: You are also at risk if you have diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or other cardiovascular conditions, or if you are obese. 


What should you do if you have any of the above mentioned risk factors for macular degeneration?

You should get a dilated fundus examination as well as take high resolution images of the retina. These tests should be performed by your eye doctor at least once a year if you have one or more of these risk factors. If you are at an increased risk of developing macular degeneration, you may need to be seen sooner by your eye doctor, such as every six months or every three to four months, so they can detect it early on, because the earlier they detect it, the less likely it is you will suffer from severe form of macular degeneration. There are a number of risk factors that should be reduced. We can't control all risk factors, but some of them can be controlled. If you are a smoker, it's really important to try to quit so that you don't develop the more severe cases of macular degeneration. Contact your primary care provider if you would like assistance in quitting smoking so you don't have this specific risk factor. 

You should visit your eye doctor as soon as possible so that they may properly diagnose, treat, and manage your condition.


Macular degeneration eye exams in New York City

Our compassionate and knowledgeable eye doctors use the latest technology and spend time with each patient to ensure that you are getting the best preventative care for macular degeneration. If you are at higher risk of developing macular degeneration, or have early stages of macular degeneration, call our office at 212-752-6930 to schedule an eye exam today.

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