AMD occurs when light-sensitive cells in the retina, known as photoreceptors, begin to deteriorate and die off. The macula is a small area of the retina responsible for central vision. When most photoreceptors in this area have been damaged or destroyed, a person can lose their reading ability and good eyesight. This condition is known as “dry” AMD because abnormal blood vessel growth under the retina isn’t caused by abnormal blood vessel growth (neovascularization). “Wet,” or neovascular, AMD involves abnormal blood vessel growth on the surface of the retina. Chronic loss of central vision due to this vessel growth occurs in about 15% of people who have had longstanding “dry” AMD. In this article, we look at the different causes of macular degeneration. If you have the condition or are at risk, you need to see a specialist in macular degeneration in San Antonio for monitoring and treatment.
Age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss for people over age 60. The exact cause of dry AMD is unknown, but oxidative damage to cells in the retina may contribute to the development and progression of the disease. Dry AMD damages the central part of the retina called the macula. It is responsible for detailed, clear vision needed to recognize faces, watch television, read, drive and see fine detail.
Research indicates that some people are at a higher risk of developing AMD. For example, if one of your parents has the disease, you have a three-fold higher risk of getting it than someone who doesn’t know anyone with AMD. Other research suggests that you may be at risk for AMD if you have a specific form of genetic pigment disorder called Stargardt disease. It is possible to inherit this type of AMD from either your mother or father, but likely the genes will only cause problems in one eye and not the other.
A history of smoking substantially increases the risk of developing AMD. Researchers first recognized the link between smoking cigarettes and an increased risk for AMD in the late 1970s. More recently, studies have shown that just being around people who smoke or being exposed to second-hand smoke also significantly increases your risk.
Several studies have shown a direct relationship between obesity and AMD. A recent study indicated that being overweight increases your risk of developing the disease by almost 50% if you already have some early signs of macular degeneration. It’s thought that obesity can promote inflammation in the body, which may be another mechanism behind the increased rate of progression of dry AMD among obese people.
High Blood Pressure
Several studies have reported an association between high blood pressure and AMD. Some research indicates that people with hypertension (high blood pressure) are almost twice as likely to develop the disease as those who don’t have high blood pressure.
In summary, macular degeneration is an irreversible condition that causes vision loss in the center of the field of vision. You can develop the condition due to high blood pressure, obesity, smoking, and genetics. Age can also increase your likelihood of developing macular degeneration.