Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
No one knows the etiology, or cause, of age-related macular degeneration. Causes are likely to be genetically inherited, but environmental factors may also contribute. Macular degeneration often runs in families. There may be a wide variety of different genes and proteins associated with dry and wet macular degeneration. Studies of twins showed that genetic factors play a significant role in the cause.
Many of the following risk factors have been found to be associated with
age-related macular degeneration:
Age: The likelihood of developing macular
degeneration increases with age.
Race: Macular degeneration is more common in
whites but occurs in all races.
Pigmentation: Macular degeneration is more common in lightly pigmented people.
Iris color: As a corollary of skin pigmentation, people with a more lightly colored iris are more likely to develop some forms of macular degeneration.
Gender: Women seem to be at greater risk.
Smoking is a well-established risk factor for both forms of macular degeneration.