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Risk factors for AMD

In this series of blogs posts, which are based on short interviews (Ed: embed the youtube clip under this paragraph), Medical Retinal Expert Jaheed Khan describes the different types of AMD; including:

  • the dry and the wet,
  • how they present,
  • what they look like,
  • how they differ, and
  • how we can treat them.

Jane Olver: Jaheed, tell me about risk factors for macular degeneration? Jaheed Khan: The most obvious risk factor for macular degeneration is getting older.
So, we do know that as you get older, you have a higher risk of developing the changes that we have described.
When we look at other risk factors, they are mostly linked to external factors, things such as smoking and how long you have been smoking. We do know that the smoking does cause a problem in later life with the development of things like age-related macular degeneration.
Exposure to sunlight is another implicated risk factor, and your diet can be linked to developing age-related macular degeneration. We always encourage patients to have a healthy diet that is high in nutrients that are present in the retina, and unhealthy diet saturated fats and sugars have been linked to the development of the disease.
JO: Is age-related macular degeneration more common in the western world or developing countries?
JK: We tend to obviously have a higher rate of it because we probably pick it up a lot more in the West, but there is a predilection for Caucasians, and that might represent a genetic element. We do know that families obviously have a risk if you have a parent or a relative who has had macular degeneration, your risk is relatively higher than a normal person.
JO: What about diabetes and hypertension does that make you more prone to age-related macular degeneration?
JK: As such, there is no specific direct link between the two, but if you have macular damage from those conditions you are possibly more likely to develop a problem in the future because you have not the residual functioning of those cells.
JO: And is cataract associated with age-related macular degeneration?
JK: There is no direct link between the two, but they share quite common risk factors such as smoking and exposure to sunlight and possibly dietary input.
JO: And do men or women get it more oris it equal between the two sexes?
JK: There is a slight predilection for females to get it, but that is a mild difference it is not predominantly one sex disease.
JO: One thing I have wondered is as we get older, we are much more aware now of exercise and diet, but we have more old people. Is age-related macular degeneration, AMD, actually on the decrease, but we just see more of it because we are living longer?
JK: I think there are elements of both of those Jane. I think AMD is certainly more common; whether it is increasing in numbers… that is a little bit hard to tell.
JO: We have stopped smoking largely?
JK: Yeah, I do not think the incidence of macular degeneration is going down. I just think the numbers are going up because as you very reasonably described lots more people are living longer.
JO: Thank you. In the next interview with  Medical Retinal Expert Jaheed Khan, we will talk more about the injections for wet AMD.


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