Stephen Rose: Hello! I'm Dr. Stephen Rose of the Foundation Fighting Blindness. Today, we're going to talk about the various risk factors that are associated with developing Age-related Macular Degeneration, also known as AMD and ways to prevent it.
Peter Campochiaro: This disease is rather complex disease and what we understand about it is that, there are certain genetic differences among individuals that pre-dispose to this disease and that combined with various environmental factors can lead to this condition, usually occurring later in life over the age of 60.
Stephen Rose: Unfortunately, we don't have any control over the inherited risk factors. Just as you can't change the color of your eyes, there is no way to change the traits that makes us more susceptible to AMD. It probably doesn't come as a surprise that a person's age is the biggest risk factor for developing Age-related Macular Degeneration. People who are 55 years of age or older are at the greatest risk.
The second uncontrollable risk factor is your race. Caucasians are at a greater risk of developing AMD while African Americans have the least risk of developing AMD. The third genetics play a role as well. AMD tends to run in families. In fact, one study found that if you have a first degree family member, meaning a parent or a sibling with AMD, then you have more that twice the risk of developing the disease yourself.
The good news is that there are other risk factors that we can control by making some specific changes to our environment and our life style. It should come as no surprise that cigarette smoking has been implicated as the most significant modifiable risk factor for developing AMD. In fact, many studies have found that smokers had as much as twice the risk for developing AMD as non-smokers.
Diet is another controllable factor in the development of AMD. Studies have found that a diet, high in saturated fat increases your risk of developing Wet AMD, the most severe form of the disease. Colorful fruits and vegetables which are rich in carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin may be protective as well. Also, foods that are high and healthy Omega3 Fatty Acids like fish may help lower your risk of developing AMD.
Your blood pressure and cardiovascular health are another controllable factor in developing AMD. In fact, several studies suggest that severe AMD can be associated with moderate to severe elevations in blood pressure and the patients with Wet AMD were more then four times likely to have moderate to severe hypertension as patients without AMD.
Last but far from least, of the controllable risk factors is the sun exposure. Avoiding prolonged sun exposure and protecting your eyes from the sun's harsh rays by wearing sun glasses and hats, you can very easily minimize your risk for developing AMD.
When it comes to AMD, prevention is the best medicine. Take inventory of the risk factors that you can control like smoking, diet and sun exposure and make the necessary life style changes to reduce your risk.
To learn know more, visit www.
org and check out our other videos on AMD including common symptoms.