Being told you are at high risk of going blind is probably something most people never imagine they will hear, especially after being told you have an incurable eye disease. So what exactly is this eye disease? Enter macular degeneration.
Age-related macular degeneration is a disease that affects vision due to damage to the central part of the retina. In the U.S., macular degeneration affects nearly 10 million people. However, although the disease may cause blindness, it’s not guaranteed. There are several factors, both controllable and uncontrollable, that may put you at risk of macular degeneration.
Risks for Macular Degeneration That You Can’t Control
- Age: The older you are, the more likely you are to develop AMD.
- Genetics: People with a family history of AMD are more prone to it.
- Light-eyed people: People with light-colored eyes (e.g., blue-eyed people) are at risk because they have lower levels of pigment in their eyes.
- Poor-sighted people: People with severe near or farsightedness are more at risk.
- Women: Because they generally live longer, women are more prone to developing AMD than men.
Risks for Macular Degeneration That You Can Control
- Being overweight
- Poor diet
- High blood pressure
- Unchecked cardiovascular disease
- Long-term sun exposure
If you have one or more of these factors, don’t be afraid to speak with your doctor to obtain more information about AMD and to stay up to date about onset symptoms. Regardless of risk or symptoms, doctors should also have conversations with patients regarding AMD before any diagnosis so patients are knowledgeable about the disease.