Macular Degeneration

Macular DegenerationToday Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness in people over the age of 60. It has been called the new epidemic because more and more it is being diagnosed in more and younger patients.

While the exact cause still eludes us, many of the risk factors for heart disease are the same for AMD. Below find a summary of the medical literature to help give guidance for protection from this coming epidemic.

Risk Factors for Macular Degeneration

If you have ____ → your risk of AMD is ____

Cerebrovascular Disease (Stroke) → 4.64 times the average risk
Age 65-74 → 4.54
Current Smoking → 2.8-5.4
Body Mass Index (25-30kg/m2) → 2.35
Total Cholesterol >6.75mmol/L → 2.3
Age 55-65 → 2.13
More than one child → 1.8
Triglyceride >2.03mmol/L → 1.7
Systolic Blood Pressure >155 → 1.7
Hyperopia >+1.00 → 1.7
Fibrinogen level >3.34g/L → 1.7
History of vascular disease → 1.6
Total Cholesterol >4.6-6.7 mmol/L → 1.5
History of cigarette smoking → 1.5
Former smoker → 1.5

Protective Factors for Macular Degeneration

If you do ____ → your risk of AMD is ____

Note: average risk is 1.00
Average Physical Activity → 0.70
Fruit Intake (3.5 servings/day) → 0.64
Former Estrogen use in women → 0.60
High intake of all carotenoids → 0.59
Broccoli (4-5 times per week) → 0.50
Greater than average physical activity → 0.50
Lutein and Zeaxanthin (4-5 times/week) → 0.43
Carotenoid levels >2.39 mmol/L → 0.40
Current Estrogen use in women → 0.30
Spinach (4-5 times/week) → 0.14


A study by the Age-Related Eye Disease Research Group

A 25% less risk for AMD progression was found in a study of those taking a combination of:

Vitamin C – 500mg
Vitamin E – 400mg
Vitamin A
Zinc – 30mg
Copper – 2mg

Most ophthalmologists recommend taking the anti-oxidant vitamins and minerals recommended in the AREDS study which consist of Vitamins A, C, and E, and the minerals Zinc and Copper. More recent research finds that Folate, and Vitamins B-1, and B-12 are protective against AMD.

The best recommendation presently would be to take a complete multi-vitamin, and eat as many fruits and vegetables (on the lutein and zeaxanthin list) and exercise regularly. Keep an ideal body weight, blood pressure, and blood cholesterol.

The above recommendations we all know but realizing this will protect our sight is one more incentive besides good health and appearance.

Medical references:

  • Dr. Jack Goldberg 1988
  • Eye Disease Case-Control Study Group 1993
  • Dr. Johanna Seddan 1994
  • Arch Ophthalmol/Vol 121, June 2003 pp785-792
  • Arch Ophthalmol/Vol 122, – 2004 pp883-892
  • AREDS Study