Macular Degeneration Home > Causes of Macular Degeneration

With macular degeneration, the specific causes are currently unknown. However, certain risk factors, such as smoking, obesity, and family history, can increase the likelihood of developing the disease. The greatest risk factor for macular degeneration is age. It is important to note that not all people who experience risk factors will develop the disease.

Macular Degeneration -- What Causes It?

No one knows exactly what causes macular degeneration, which is a common eye disease that can affect your central vision. Doctors can seldom explain why one person gets macular degeneration and another does not. However, research has shown that people with certain risk factors are more likely than others to develop the condition. A risk factor is anything that increases a person's chance of developing a disease.

Know the Risk Factors

Studies have found a number of factors that may increase the risk of macular degeneration. They are not direct macular degeneration "causes" -- they just make it more likely to occur. These risk factors may act together to increase the risk even more. Specific risk factors for this condition include:
The greatest risk factor for macular degeneration is age. Although the condition may occur during middle age, studies show that people over age 60 are clearly at greater risk than other age groups. For instance, a large study found that middle-aged people have about a 2 percent risk of getting macular degeneration, but this risk increased to nearly 30 percent in those over age 75.
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Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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