Macular Degeneration, the leading cause of blindness, has no definite known cause. Doctors have been unable to ascertain why for example one person may be affected by the disease while another may not. However, researchers have identified certain risk factors that make people vulnerable to the disease. Some of these factors which include age, smoking, gender, race, family history, high blood pressure/hypertension, exposure to sunlight and other harmful rays, heart diseases and obesity are more likely to pre-dispose an individual to the condition.
The greatest pre-disposing factor for Macular Degeneration is age. Although the disease has been known to affect children and youth, middle aged and the elderly are more likely to develop catch the disease. Studies carried out have revealed that those people above the age of sixty years are prone to Macular degeneration than any other group of people.
Like most other chronic diseases, having family members who have had Macular degeneration puts you at a greater risk. This has to do with the genetic makeup of the family. Therefore, it is important to get a medical history on previous members of your family and to keep records of which diseases they suffered from. Make sure you do frequent check ups so that you can monitor the state of the health of your eyes – especially if your family history makes you predisposed to the disease. However, it does not mean since one of your family members had the disease you too must have it.
The eyes are very sensitive organs. Doctors often advise their patients not to expose their eyes to very strong sunlight or any other kind of strong light. Macular Degeneration has been known to affect people whose work areas involve exposure of the eyes to very strong ultra violet radiations -- for example, welders who are exposed to the high intensity light of their tools. To protect yourself make sure you wear protective guards when using any device that emits ultra violet light. Also, avoid looking directly up at the sky if there is strong sun.
Another predisposing factor is obesity. Research has linked obese people to progressive Macular degeneration. Smoking is also a risk factor that enhances a person's chances of contracting the disease. Remember use of tobacco has been known to cause a variety of other human medical conditions and should therefore be avoided.
Studies in the US have shown that Caucasians have a higher risk of being affected by Macular Degeneration compared to other races. Moreover, the gender is a factor - women are more at risk than men. People with high blood pressure and heart related ailments are also more likely to be affected. It is therefore advised that if you face any of these risk factors, talk to an ophthalmologist. He or she will do thorough tests to determine if you are affected.