Macular degeneration is an eye disease that affects a person's central vision and causes objects to appear blurry or out of focus. Although scientists still aren't quite sure of the exact macular degeneration causes, there are several known risk factors. These include age, genetics, smoking, race, and other diseases and medical conditions.
Old age seems to be the most important risk factor for macular degeneration. In general, most macular degeneration patients are past middle age, and their aging eyes and eyesight are beginning to fade. It is estimated that individuals who are 75 or older have roughly a 30 percent chance of dealing with macular degeneration in one or both eyes. This is often referred to as age-related macular degeneration, or ARMD.
Genetics also seem to be a major risk factor of macular degeneration. Recent research and studies have shown that this eye disease is very likely hereditary, and generally runs in families. Studies have shown that either the absence of or a variation of a certain gene can result in a person developing macular degeneration. Researching this theory further could possibly allow doctors to test for this gene and possibly help prevent the onset of macular degeneration.
While most people know that smoking cigarettes can cause a variety of health problems, many are probably unaware that it may be one of the macular degeneration causes. Nearly a quarter of patients who develop early macular degeneration smoked cigarettes. Other drugs and the side effects of some medications may also put a person at risk for developing macular degeneration. These medications include chloroquine, chlorpromazine, and phenothiazine.
Although a person of any race can develop macular degeneration, it seems that Caucasians are more at risk than any other race. People with light skin also tend to have light-colored eyes, like blue. Scientists believe those with light-colored eyes are at increased risk for macular degeneration. Some scientists believe that pigment in darker eyes may better protect the eyes from the sun, but the theory that this is related to macular degeneration causes is still hotly debated.
Although other diseases and medical conditions are not macular degeneration causes, they may help contribute to the onset or progression of the disease. High blood pressure, low levels of good cholesterol, and obesity are a few of these medical conditions. Some researchers have even concluded that addressing these problems can slow the progression of macular degeneration or stop it altogether. There is, however, no actual cure for the disease, and eventually macular degeneration causes blindness.