Factors associated with macular degeneration

Article Tags:

Macular degeneration is a serious eye disease that affects usually older adults. Patients of this disease will suffer a loss of vision in the center of the visual field. Fortunately, the peripheral vision is usually unaffected. However, serious loss of central vision can lead to difficulty in reading or recognizing familiar faces and lots of regular activities will be disturbed. While the symptoms and consequences of macular degeneration are clearly known by the eye care community, the reason for this disease is a little confusing. There are quite a few factors that probably contribute to macular degeneration.

Inadequate antioxidants increase the risk of HEV exposure

A large study conducted by some European researchers revealed that a combination of too few antioxidants in diet and exposure to blue light (HEV) rays can significantly increase the risk of developing advanced macular degeneration. Blue light alone is never linked with any kind of macular degeneration. However, low consumption of antioxidants such as vitamin C and zinc can make blue light rays more harmful. Besides taking more nutrients from vegetables and fruits, older people should also get HEV protection from proper sunglasses. This finding suggests a link between different factors that are traditionally associated with macular degeneration in a separate way.

Estrogen intake can reduce the risk of AMD

Alcohol consumption has been ruled out as a risky factor for age-related macular degeneration (AMD). However, post-menopause women with declining levels of the hormone estrogen are more likely to suffer an advanced form of age-related macular degeneration. In this sense, estrogen intake can considerably eliminate the risk of advanced AMD. Another unexpected finding is that hormone replacement therapy increases the risk of early forms of macular degeneration.

African Americans have lower risks of macular degeneration

Findings published in 2008 by scientists from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine pointed out that Caucasians were more likely to have advanced and blinding forms of macular degeneration than African Americans. In addition, early signs such as yellowish spots in the retina also occurred more in Caucasians. The study concluded that African Americans had lower risks of suffering macular degeneration.

Smoking can increase AMD risk

Smoking is closely linked with lung cancer. A study published in the Archives of Ophthalmology in 2008 worked out that smoking can also raise the risk of AMD by as high as 50%. With a longer smoking history, the rate of developing AMD at an early age is relatively higher. The effect of secondary exposure to smoke on macular degeneration is yet unknown, because smoking in public areas is prohibited by federal laws.

Lutein and zeaxanthin can reduce AMD risk

The two pigments lutein and zeaxanthin found in yellow and dark green vegetables have been reported to reduce the risk of macular degeneration. A National Eye Institute study including 4,500 participants pointed out that lutein and zeaxanthin can prevent harmful short-wavelength light from damaging the retina.