Risk Factors for Macular Degeneration

Published on
May 17, 2022

Macular degeneration is a condition characterised by retinal damage that can cause loss of central vision. Understanding what can cause AMD is very important to know if you are at risk for it because there are precautions that can be taken to avoid damage from AMD.

Family history

If you have an immediate family member with macular degeneration, it increases your risk of getting that condition as well. 


Caucasians are at the greatest risk of developing AMD and going blind due to macular degeneration. One third of white people carry a gene related to macular degeneration, and those with light colored eyes are more likely to develop dry AMD.


When you smoke, you definitely increase your chances of developing macular degeneration. 

UV rays

You may develop a variety of eye conditions including macular degeneration if you live in areas with bright sunlight and are out all the time. So it certainly doesn't help with the macula either. Essentially, our eyes are magnifiers themselves. When we are outside in the sun, our eyes magnify all that light into our eyes. In addition to having UV protection for light entering from the front of your glasses, it is actually important to also have protection on the back surface of your lenses. When we make glasses for our patients, especially sunglasses and clear glasses, we apply a UV coating to the back surface. It's easy to forget that there's still a lot of reflection coming from the back, which reflects back into our eyes.  If it comes from the back, it's not going to be filtered until we put on the backside coating.


Research shows that someone who is obese is at a slightly increased risk of developing macular degeneration. However for someone with macular degeneration, the risks are much higher, as obesity has been shown to significantly increase the risk that earlier stages of macular degeneration will progress to later stages. Since later stages of macular degeneration leads to permanent vision loss, it is very important that someone who has macular degeneration is careful about managing their weight. 

Cardiovascular Disease

There is a high correlation between macular degeneration and heart disease with a major study in Taiwan that showed a significant association between the two. However scientific studies have not shown definitively whether there is a causal relationship between the two. 


Age is the biggest risk factor for macular degeneration, and the reason it is called Age Related Macular Degeneration. Typically, around the age of 60 is when we start to see signs of macular degeneration, but it doesn't mean that those signs cannot be apparent earlier or later than that. But on average, it usually happens around that age. Age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in adults over 60. Between ages 50 and 60, diabetic retinopathy is actually the leading cause of blindness.


A diet high in fish, eggs, and leafy green vegetables increases the amount of cartenoids found in the retina. These cartenoids, namely Lutein and Zeaxanthin, have been shown to reduce the progression of macular degeneration. For someone that has a diet that lacks these food groups in proper proportions, there may be an increased risk, especially if they have early stage macular degeneration. 


Eye doctor for Macular Degeneration in Los Angeles 

At Amplify EyeCare of Greater Long Beach, we provide advanced medical eyecare for macular degeneration. Dr. Sarah Wolff is a residency trained low vision optometrist, and Dr. Eric Ikeda is a neuro optometrist helping patients following strokes or traumatic brain injury. When you schedule an eye exam for macular degeneration at our office, we will take the time to thoroughly examine your eyes and share ideas with you that are important in preventing eye disease. Call us at (562) 925-6591 to schedule an eye exam today. 


I haven't actually used the optometrist side, so my review is limited to the vision therapy offered.  This office was recommended by my occupational therapist for the treatment of my double vision following a stroke.

Claire A.

Love this location. I had a brain injury accident from day one one. All the team make you feel you still important and hope in the horizon after when the medical system fell you miserably. Dr. Ikeda very professional and very understanding about your issue. Two tombs up.

Jim K.

My husband and I were immediately impressed with Dr Ikeda. I was hit by a car while cycling which caused broken bones and three brain injuries. The brain injuries caused double vision. Dr. Ikeda examined my eyes and got me started on vision therapy with his occupational therapist who specializes in vision therapy.  She (Chris) is absolutely great.  I am impressed with the array of tools used to help recover my binocular vision.  I am doing things I never thought were possible (balance boards etc).  Chris pushes me and keeps me motivated. I really enjoy my sessions with her.  The office staff is always friendly and they have a wonderful appointment reminder tool that makes it easy to keep my calendar up to date. I am happy the rehab center at Little Co. of Mary recommended them!!

Teresa S.

The Vision Therapy is handled in a separate office through a different door from the shared waiting room. Chris, the vision therapist, has a wide and varied assortment of tools, equipment and resources to best evaluate and treat most vision issues. After just a few visits, my double vision became easier to control, using exercises developed during the therapy process. It was time well-spent.

Joe M.

I have been coming here since I can remember. I love it here. The staff is so amazing and nice. They explain everything they gonna do and never make you feel rushed. Dr. Ikeda has always been my doctor and I would never want another one. He is the doctor for my whole family and is always asking how everyone is doing. I am also so crazy about picking out my frames and have to try so many and each person who helps me take the time and lets me try them all on. I would never want to go anywhere else! I definitely would recommend this office to anyone looking for a great eye doctor.

Kayla W.

This is not for the eye exam but for the frames selection portion. I brought my prescription from Kaiser here with my VSP insurance. The reception staff was very polite and professional.  Manny helped me to pick out frames and explain my coverage.  Very helpful and patient not like the individual at the other place I rated here on Yelp.  I was running late and he still helped me and was not bothered at all.  I am so glad I came here ..........very pleased.

Very professional staff and pleasant.

Daniel G.
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