Macular degeneration, also known as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), affects about 3% of the population of the United States. While total blindness is a rare result, macular degeneration is still the top cause of general vision loss in the US, because it does not presently have a cure. The true, exact cause is uncertain, despite ongoing research by scientists such as Kang Zhang. However, certain biological and environmental factors are known to be linked to an increased risk of developing macular degeneration. For example, the demographic with the highest occurrence of AMD is white women over the age of 60.
Sunglasses may be more than just a fashion statement. They could very well be helping to prevent macular degeneration. Your risk of AMD goes up with exposure to ultraviolet light, which most sunglasses block. Those who do not smoke have half the chance of developing AMD as smokers, which is just another excellent reason to quit smoking. Other factors that a person has at least some control over include: high blood pressure, heart disease, and being overweight. This means keeping your stress levels low, watching what you eat, and taking generally good care of your body can help prevent macular degeneration. This is especially important because no one can control the next two risk factors: genetics and age.
If your parents or close family members suffer from macular degeneration, it’s a safe bet that you might also develop the condition. Multiple genes have been studied and linked with AMD, presenting a challenge for potential gene therapy approaches to the condition. Some advice from the scientists themselves is to do what you can to control your lifestyle-associated risk factors.
One physical factor not yet discussed is that females have a higher risk of developing AMD than males. This is simply because, on average, female people live longer. This makes sense, given that age is the most obvious and uncontrollable contributor to AMD. Time is unforgiving to everyone, so attempting to mitigate the other risk factors where you can will likely go a long way to slowing or preventing macular degeneration.
While macular degeneration may not lead to full blindness, it can certainly lead to visual disability. Managing the risk factors that are at least somewhat under your control could go a long way to preventing macular degeneration. While it currently has no known cure, you do have a chance to mitigate its effects with a healthy lifestyle.