Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) leads to deterioration of the center of the retina, called the macula, and eventually leading to loss of central vision. A new study has revealed that heavy smoking, poor diet and lack of exercise can put you at increased risk of AMD, especially if you have a family history of the blinding eye disorder. The findings of the study suggest that genetic and lifestyle factors may contribute to AMD in a synergistic way.
One of the lead researchers Julie A Mares from University of Wisconsin-Madison in the US said, "If you have a family history of AMD, the good news is that the study findings suggest that there are things you can do to potentially lower your risk of developing AMD yourself."
The research group studied the risk among women aged 50 to 79 years. They evaluated the diet and exercise patterns of 1663 women and categorized them into lowest, moderate and highest-risk groups. The team also evaluated whether the women smoked and, if so, how many years they smoked a pack of cigarettes or more each day. Genetic data from the women was also assessed by the scientists to determine whether they carried known genetic risk factors for AMD.
A total of 337 women in the study developed AMD, of whom 91% had early-stage disease. Among women with stable diets, women who had genetic risk, smoked at least seven pack-years, and were in the highest-risk diet and exercise categories were more than four times more likely to have AMD compared to those who did not have genetic risk factors and who ate a healthy diet and got at least 10 hours of light exercise per week or at least eight hours of moderate activity such as brisk walking.
The findings appeared online in Ophthalmology.