Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of irreversible vision loss in the United States for people over the age of 55. AMD causes problems reading, driving and performing activities that require clear central vision. AMD HAS NO CURE.

Because AMD is so debilitating, it’s important to understand what puts one at risk. Risk assessment and reduction should start in the 20’s. We don’t have to wait until our patients develop observable signs of AMD. It’s far easier to try to prevent AMD than to treat it once it’s already started.

Suppose we could identify certain risk factors before any disease process took place. What if we could modify those risk factors?

That gets us into the discussion of the two types of risk factors: the ones you can’t control and the ones you can. Risk factors we can’t change are genetics, race, age and gender; and the ones we can are factors such as smoking, body fat, hypertension, diabetes, sun exposure and nutrition. There are several fairly new risk factors that are easily modified right in the doctor’s office, low macular pigment density and harmful absorption of high-energy visible light (HEV) or blue light.Another new risk factor is the time it takes a person to adapt to darkness.