Macular Degeneration (cont.)
Macular Degeneration Causes
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.
- Obesity and syndrome X, or metabolic syndrome, are also associated with the condition.
- Sleep apnea may be associated with macular degeneration independent of the obesity risk factor.
- Exposure to sunlight: Those with lifelong outdoor careers or hobbies as well as those living near the equator and at high altitudes are at greater risk.
- Medications: Some medications like Fosamax for osteoporosis may predispose to macular degeneration.
- High degrees of myopia may be associated with age-related macular degeneration or a similar condition called myopic degeneration.
- Family history is perhaps the most important risk factor other than age.
John D. Sheppard, MD, MMSc
Must Read Articles Related to Macular Degeneration
Cigarette smoking remains the leading cause of death and illness among Americans. Effects of smoking can cause cancers, emphysema, bronchitis, COPD, chronic cou...learn more >>
Eye Care Providers
There are a number of different types of eye care providers. Depending on the eye problems you're suffering from you may need the services of an opthamologist o...learn more >>
More than two-thirds of Americans are overweight, including at least one in five
children. Nearly one-third are obese. Obesity is on the rise in our society
...learn more >>
Patient Comments & Reviews
The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Macular Degeneration: