Overview of risk factors for age-related macular degeneration (AMD)

Richard A. Armstrong*, Maryam Mousavi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Published conference outputChapter


Age related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness in individuals older than 65 years of age. It is a multifactorial disorder and identification of risk factors enables individuals to make life style choices that may reduce the risk of disease. This review discusses the role of genetics, sunlight, diet, cardiovascular factors, smoking, and alcohol as possible risk factors for AMD. Genetics plays a more significant role in AMD than previously thought, especially in younger patients, histocompatibility locus antigen (HLA) and complement system genes being the most significant. Whether the risk of AMD is increased by exposure to sunlight, cardiovascular risk factors, and diet is more controversial. Smoking is the risk factor most consistently associated with AMD. Current smokers are exposed to a two to three times higher risk of AMD than non-smokers and the risk increases with intensity of smoking. Moderate alcohol consumption is unlikely to increase the risk of AMD. Optometrists as front-line informers and educators of ocular health play a significant role in increasing public awareness of the risks of AMD. Cessation of smoking, the use of eye protection in high light conditions, dietary changes, and regular use of dietary supplements should all be considered to reduce the lifetime risk of AMD.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAge-related macular degeneration
Subtitle of host publicationprevalence, risk factors and clinical management
EditorsMelanie Carter
PublisherNova science
Number of pages36
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-63483-356-1
ISBN (Print)978-1-63483-329-5
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Publication series

NameEye and vision research developments


  • age-related macular degeneration (AMD)
  • diet
  • epidemiology
  • genes
  • risk factors
  • smoking
  • sunlight


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