Learn the Leading Risk Factors for AMD

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is caused by damage to the macula — the center of the retina in the back of your eye, which controls your central vision and allows you to see fine details. It is also, unfortunately, common: AMD is the leading cause of irreversible vision loss for adults over 50. This is because of genetics and natural aging processes that increase your risk — but so do other factors, some of which you can control.

We’ve compiled four of the most common macular degeneration risk factors to help you understand how at-risk you may be for this serious eye condition, and what you can address to get ahead of it.

man smoking a cigarette


A variety of studies have shown that people who smoke cigarettes are more likely to develop AMD than non-smokers. There’s a direct correlation: smoking reduces the amount of oxygen to the choroid, a thin, protective tissue between the retina and the sclera and activates a reaction in your immune system, causing inflammation. It also depletes lutein, an antioxidant necessary for long-term macular health. In general, smoking compromises your eye health in many ways!

woman eating healthy fruits

A Diet High in Saturated Fats

Similar to smoking, certain dietary fats can also decrease the amount of oxygen reaching your eye. An excess of saturated fats and cholesterol can cause a fatty substance known as plaque to build up on your macular vessels and hamper the blood flow to your eyes. This, in turn, can sabotage your macular health and increase your risk of developing AMD.

man doing some cardio exercise


Obesity has also been found by several studies to be a predictor of the development of macular degeneration. Obesity appears to be linked to compromised blood vessels, which struggle to deliver oxygen to your eyes. Additionally, morbid obesity is associated with increased inner eye pressure, which can negatively affect your vision with conditions ranging from AMD to glaucoma.

woman wearing eyeglases

Drusen Buildup

Drusen are a combination of lipids and proteins that appear as yellow buildup within the eyes, near the macula. They can mean an increased risk of AMD — many people develop drusen naturally with age and never have issues, but a high amount of drusen can damage the macula or indicate eye health issues that lead to AMD. Caucasian people are more likely to develop drusen, but anybody can.

Regular Eye Exams are the Best Way to Manage AMD

If you’re over the age of 50 or have any of these risk factors, you’re at greater risk of developing AMD. The best way to handle this is to catch macular degeneration early through regular eye exams — such as those offered at Buffalo Ophthalmology.

Our seasoned doctors are skilled at detecting even AMD’s first warning signs with our advanced technology, and they develop truly personalized treatment plans to help each patient stay a step ahead of macular degeneration and vision loss. Don’t wait: schedule your eye exam today.

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