If you are a smoker, spend a lot of time outdoors, or have certain medical conditions, you might be at risk for an eye condition called macular degeneration. This condition can cause vision loss and blindness at any age, though it is often related to getting older. With macular degeneration, a part of the retina called the macula is starting to weaken. This is what causes the vision loss. It helps to know if you are at a higher risk for the condition so you can work closely with your optometrist to find an appropriate treatment. Here are some common risk factors for macular degeneration.
You Have a Family History of Similar Conditions
One of the more common risk factors for this eye condition is if you have a family member with the same or a similar eye condition. Macular degeneration and a variety of other eye-related diseases can be hereditary. Having a parent with this condition doesn't necessarily mean you will get it, but it definitely raises your risk. If you have a parent or close family member with the condition, start seeing an optometrist regularly for eye exams.
You Don't Wear Sunglasses
If you spend a lot of time outdoors and don't protect your eyes with sunglasses, you could be at risk for macular degeneration. This condition can be sped up by ultraviolet exposure from the sun. Not only do you need to wear sunglasses, but you need to choose lenses that have excellent protection from the sun's UV rays. You can talk to your optometrist about the best types of lenses for sunglasses. While sun exposure won't cause the condition, it can speed up the vision loss.
You Are an Older Adult
There is a certain type of macular degeneration called age-related macular degeneration (AMD) that affects older adults. With this type of degeneration of the macula, it tends to occur when you reach retirement ages and will continue to worsen as you get older. This is one of the most common risk factors for the condition and often why older adults complain of losing their vision.
You Smoke Cigarettes
Smoking cigarettes can also put you at risk for this eye condition, not to mention the myriad other medical conditions you could suffer from. According to a study published in 2007, smoking cigarettes raises your risk for age-related macular degeneration exponentially. This is also one of the only causes of this eye condition that is avoidable. If you currently smoke cigarettes, now is the time to quit. Talk to your doctor about smoking cessation methods if you need help.
Contact a center like Malkani Retina Center if you have more questions about macular degeneration.