Other Risk Factors
There are many known and proven non-ocular (non-eye-related) risk factors for visually consequential AMD.
Non-Ocular Risk Factors
Two genes in particular have been strongly identified with increased risk of developing AMD. These are complement factor H (CFH) and age-related maculopathy susceptibility 2 (ARMS2) genes. These were identified in 2005 as being the major risk genes for AMD, which together have been estimated to account for over 50% of risk for developing AMD. If you are interested in genetic testing, please contact us for more information.
Family history of visually consequential AMD
Family history of visually consequential AMD is one of the most important and established risk factors for this condition. In fact, people with a first degree relative (i.e. a parent or sibling) with visually consequential AMD are believed to be three times more likely to develop visually consequential AMD than someone without a confirmed family history of disease.
Cigarette smoking is one of the most important risk factors for visually consequential AMD. The risk of a current smoker developing visually consequential AMD is two to three times greater than someone who has never smoked.
Current research has shown that a healthy diet is an important for reducing risk of AMD. In particular, foods containing the macular carotenoids are believed to be important in helping to prevent the onset of visually consequential AMD.
Inadequate intake of anti-oxidant supplements
Anti-oxidant supplements have been shown to be beneficial in reducing the progression of AMD that has not yet affected vision from developing into AMD that does affect vision. There is also a growing body of evidence that anti-oxidant supplements containing the macular carotenoids may be beneficial in terms of preventing or delaying the onset or progression of AMD.
Inadequate intake of Omega-3
Omega-3 fatty acids are believed to be of benefit in reducing the risk of progression of AMD that has not yet affected vision.
White race is associated with increased risk of visually consequential AMD, reflected in the fact that the prevalence of this disease is far greater in white populations when compared to non-white populations. However, the prevalence of visually consequential AMD is on the increase in non-white populations, probably due to the fact that western lifestyle habits (e.g. nutritionally-poor diet and sedentary lifestyle) are becoming more common worldwide.
Obesity is a suggested risk factor for visually consequential AMD. In fact, there appears to be a growing body of evidence in support of the view that obesity is an important determinant for the development of visually consequential AMD.
Females are believed to be at greater risk of AMD than males, and the link between female sex and development of visually consequential AMD is believed to be hormone-related (i.e. oestrogen-related). However, the evidence available is not conclusive, and the greater prevalence of visually consequential AMD in females may be due to the fact that females live longer.
Cumulative exposure to visible light
Cumulative exposure to visible light, especially from the short wavelength end (high energy) of the visible spectrum, is a risk factor for visually consequential AMD.
High cholesterol levels
High cholesterol is a suggested risk factor for visually consequential AMD. However, the results of various studies investigating a possible link between hypercholesterolaemia (i.e. an excess of cholesterol in the blood ) and AMD are not conclusive.
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a suggested risk factor for visually consequential AMD. However, the results of studies to date remain inconclusive.
The condition of diabetes can increase the risk of developing late stage AMD. This risk is associated with angiogenesis (new vessel growth) in the diabetic retina.
The risk is greatest in poorly controlled Type 2 diabetes (late onset, largely diet- and medication-controlled).
Type 1 diabetics (young-age onset, insulin-controlled) are at less risk. However, control in these individuals is also important.