What Causes Age-Related Macular Degeneration?
Guardion Health Sciences
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the thinning and gradual breakdown of tissue in the macula: the portion of the retina responsible for clear central vision. In dry AMD, which is the less serious and more common form of the disease, small yellow deposits called drusen form beneath the retina. In wet AMD, which is the more serious form, new blood vessels behind the retina start to grow and leak blood and other fluids, and scar tissue can develop. This creates blurriness, darkness or blind spots in the center of the visual field, and can lead to total blindness.
Vision loss from AMD can make it more difficult to read, drive, recognize faces or see objects in fine detail. AMD also makes it difficult to see properly under low-contrast and low-light conditions, such as driving at night, walking through a dim garage or stepping up on a sidewalk in the shadows. This visual deterioration can occur slowly or rapidly.
Although experts aren’t absolutely certain what causes AMD, research suggests the development of the disease may be related to a number of factors, including hereditary and environmental factors.
As the name would suggest, age is a factor influencing whether a person will develop AMD. With advancing age, the macular tissue gets thinner and starts to break down. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, you are more likely to get AMD if you are more than 50 years of age.
Some experts believe that genetic factors may be to blame for AMD, and researchers have identified a few genes related to the development of the disease. If you have a family history of AMD, you are at a higher risk of getting it.
Caucasians are at an elevated risk of getting the disease.
Studies suggest that smoking or being exposed to cigarette smoke regularly may increase a person’s likelihood of getting AMD.
Some research suggests that excess weight or obesity, along with high blood pressure and high cholesterol, may increase a person’s risk of getting AMD.
Can You Prevent AMD?
Although there is no known foolproof way of preventing AMD, there are measures you can take to reduce your risk of getting the disease. Not smoking, practicing sun protection, exercising, eating a healthy diet and maintaining your weight may help stave off AMD or reduce the risk of early AMD progressing into the more serious, sight-threatening stage of the disease.
Research also suggests that it may help to replenish the macular pigment, the protective layer inside your eyes that absorbs dangerous wavelengths of blue and UV light from the sun and neutralizes free radicals. The macular pigment is made up of three carotenoids: lutein, zeaxanthin and meso-zeaxanthin. Although lutein and zeaxanthin are found in small doses of foods like leafy green vegetables, most people’s daily diets do not include enough of the antioxidants to replenish the macular pigment. Taking nutritional supplements of medical foods with sufficient amounts of these carotenoids can restore and replenish one’s macular pigment and lower their risk of getting AMD.
Learn More about AMD
If you would like more information about AMD and how to reduce your chances of getting the disease through nutritional supplementation, please contact Guardion Health Sciences today.