Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Kiran Panesar, BPharmS (Hons), MRPharmS, RPh, CPh


US Pharmacist. 2015;40(6):22-26. 

In This Article

Etiology and Risk Factors

The etiology of ARMD is multifactorial and involves an interplay of genetic, environmental, metabolic, and functional factors, including aging, family history, smoking, high blood pressure, obesity, hypercholesterolemia, and arteriosclerosis.[4,8] The deterioration of the macula results in the loss of central vision only; peripheral vision remains intact.[5] Central vision is needed for identifying letters, numbers, facial features, border surfaces, angles, and colors; reading; driving; watching television; and many other activities requiring "high-definition" vision.[5,10] Since peripheral vision is not affected, patients with ARMD typically do not require canes or guide dogs.

Although numerous risk factors for ARMD have been identified, their association is variable, and the evidence for some of them is poor. As new and relatively effective treatments become available, the early identification of patients with risk factors becomes even more important. Risk factors associated with ARMD include old age, smoking, family history, female gender, obesity, sun exposure, atherosclerosis, hypertension, diabetes, polypharmacy, alcohol, ethnicity, hypothyroidism, and C-reactive protein.[2,5,8,11–22]