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Risk Factors for Macular Degeneration

A risk factor is something that increases your likelihood of getting a disease or condition.
It is possible to develop macular degeneration with or without the risk factors listed below. However, the more risk factors you have, the greater your likelihood of developing macular degeneration. If you have a number of risk factors, ask your doctor what you can do to reduce your risk.
Adult macular degeneration is more common in people over 50, and the risk increases with advancing age.
Adult macular degeneration is more common in women.
According to the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, adult macular degeneration is more common in people who are Caucasian.
Genetic factors appear to be very common in early-onset types of macular degeneration. Specific genetic causes for adult macular degeneration have not been identified. However, a positive family history may increase risk.
The following factors all increase your risk of macular degeneration:
  • Smoking
  • Heavy alcohol use
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Excessive sunlight
According to the National Registry of Drug-Induced Ocular Side Effects, taking certain drugs may increase your risk of developing adult macular degeneration. If you are taking any of these drugs, talk with your doctor about your risk of macular degeneration.
These drugs include:
  • Acetazolamide
  • Aluminum Nicotinate
  • Broxyquinoline
  • Dichlorphenamide
  • Epinephrine
  • Ethoxzolamide
  • Griseofulvin
  • Iodide and Iodine Solutions and Compounds
  • Iodochlorhydroxyquin
  • Iodoquinol
  • Iothalamate Meglumine and/or Sodium
  • Iothalamic Acid
  • Methazolamide
  • Niacin
  • Niacinamide
  • Nicotinyl Alcohol
The following drugs may be linked to adult macular degeneration, but there is no conclusive evidence at this time:
  • Allopurinol
  • Betaxolol
  • Chymotrypsin
  • Dipivefrin
  • DPE
  • Indomethacin
  • Levobunolol
  • Naproxen
  • Phenylephrine


Age-related macular degeneration. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated May 23, 2013. Accessed July 15, 2013.
SanGiovanni JP, Chew EY, Clemons TE, et al. The relationship of dietary lipid intake and age-related macular degeneration in a case-control study: AREDS Report No 20. Arch Ophthalmol. 2007;125A(5):671-679.
Vision loss: Causes & risk factors. American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/vision-loss/causes-risk-factors.html. Updated February 2011. Accessed July 15, 2013.
What is macular degeneration? American Macular Degeneration Foundation website. Available at: https://www.macular.org/what-macular-degeneration. Accessed July 15, 2013.
6/17/2014 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Chew EY, Clemons TE, Agrón E. et al. Ten-year follow-up of age-related macular degeneration in the age-related eye disease study: AREDS report no. 36. JAMA Ophthalmol. 2014;132(3):272-272.

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