Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness in people 65 years or older by causing damage to your optic nerve.

There are many different causes for AMD, and they can work in combination to cause the condition. That?s why it?s important to consider both your genetic factors and environmental or habitual risk factors which can cause age-related macular degeneration. Environmental factors which can lead to AMD include smoking, excessive sun exposure, high intake of saturated fats and more.

Recent research has shown that genetics can play a more significant role in AMD than previously thought. Let?s look at some of the genetic risk factors for age-related macular degeneration.

Risk Factors

A risk factor is something that doesn?t always lead to a condition but increases the risk of having that condition. For AMD, a number of changes in DNA sequences near or in genes, loss of DNA and other genetic issues have been identified as risk factors in the past few years.

If a blood relative has developed age-related macular degeneration, there is a chance they may carry a genetic risk factor and you may as well. Genetic testing can be done to determine if you carry a risk factor, but setting up regular eye exams is best because AMD can form even without a genetic risk factor.

Several genes have now been implicated as possible risk factors. The most common genetic factors for AMD include: CFH; CFB; C3; and, SERPING1.

Other less likely genetic risk factors include: ABCR; CACNG3; FGF2; Fibulin-5; LOXL1; SELP; APOE; and, LIPC.

Types Of Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Atrophic (Dry)

The most common form of age-related macular degeneration is atrophic or dry. Dry AMD is caused by degeneration of the pigment epithelium, choriocapillaris and photoreceptor cells.

Exudative (Wet)

In exudative or wet AMD, new choroidal vessels are formed, leading to retinal detachment, edema and hemorrhage which result in age-related macular degeneration.

Schedule An Eye Exam

The most important habit you can do to protect yourself from age-related macular degeneration is to make sure you?re getting a regular eye exam. Whether you think you have an eye issue or not, a regular eye exam can help discover problems before they get out of control, and help you correct them early on.