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Am I At Risk of Developing Macular Degeneration?

by Caroline Cauchi, OD

The optometrists at Vision Solutions discuss the symptoms of Macular Degeneration so patients can learn if they are at risk of developing this disease. This is the 3rd article in the series dedicated to the 2017 National Macular Degeneration month.

What increases your risk of developing macular degeneration (AMD)?

There are things that we can control and things we cannot. The risk increases with age and that is something we cannot control.  If you have a family member with AMD, this increases your risk too.  Again, you can’t control this. However, often times that family member engaged in “eye-risky” behavior (see below) and their disease may have had nothing to do with genetics.  Caucasians (especially very lightly pigmented or blue-eyed people) have a higher chance of developing this disease and unfortunately you can’t change that either.

But there are “eye-risky” behaviors that you CAN control, such as:

  • Smoking:  This is the leading risk for developing AMD.  It happens earlier and much worse.
  • Unprotected sun exposure:  The harmful UV rays penetrate your eye and slowly but surely begin destroying your macula.
  • What you eat:  A diet high in fat and carbs promotes macular destruction.
  • Obesity:  Those folks carrying significant excess pounds are 3X as likely to develop AMD.
  • High blood pressure:  This restricts good blood flow to the macula.
  • Lack of exercise:  Again, inactivity leads to poor blood exchange to the macula.
  • Infrequent eye exams:  There are early signs of AMD that your eye doctor can see but won’t be visible to you for a few years.

So what can you do to protect yourself and your eyes?  Read the next post in this Macular Degeneration blog series, which is coming out in a few days. If you can’t wait for the next blog post, call us today at (619) 461-4913.

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