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Although researchers have not found a definitive cause for AMD, a number of factors may put you at greater risk for developing the disease.

Although researchers have not found a definitive cause for AMD, a number of factors may put you at greater risk for developing the disease.

  • a family history of AMD,
  • age is the greatest risk factor for AMD.  An estimated one million Canadians have some form of AMD, and the majority are people over the age of 50.  Prevalence increases as you get older, 
  • gender, estrogen and early menopause; a higher incidence of AMD appears in women who experience early-onset menopause,
  • cigarette smoking;  smokers are as much as four times more likely to develop AMD compared to the general population, and people who smoke and have family history of AMD have 144 times the risk of the general population!  Exposure to secondhand smoke also contributes to the risk of developing AMD; by quitting you’ll also reduce the risk to people close to you,
  • high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease
  • overexposure to sunlight; mitigate risks by 
    • wearing sunglasses with a high UV rating,
    • cover up with clothing and a hat,
    • stay in the shade,
    • sun exposure occurs even on moderately bright or overcast days, and in winter,
  • diet may be a contributing factor in developing AMD 
    • a high consumption of linoleic acid, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and vegetable fats is associated with double the risk of developing wet AMD,
    • eating red meat increases the risk,
    • those who eat two or more servings per week of fish high in Omega 3 fatty acids have a lower risk,
    • other studies show that eating fruits may reduce the risk of AMD, as do diets rich in carotenoids, such as lutein and zeaxanthin, found in dark green leafy vegetables and some berries.


  • blurred or fuzzy vision; an early sign of AMD that, in some cases, might become less apparent under brighter lighting conditions,
  • straight lines appearing wavy or crooked; this symptom is particular to wet AMD and can affect both lines seen in near vision, such as sentences on a page, as well as those farther away, such as telephone poles and the sides of buildings,
  • decreased contrast sensitivity; people with AMD might have difficulty seeing objects that are the same color as the background (for example, black coffee in a black cup), 
  • a small but growing blind spot in the center of vision; someone with AMD might be able to see the numbers on the circumference of a clock, but not the hands in the middle, 
  • decreased ability to distinguish colors,
  • difficulty seeing at a distance.

Genetic Test Available for AMD

If you have AMD or a family history of AMD, we offer MaculaRisk and VItaRisk testing to help assess your genetic predisposition for developing the disease, as well as vitamins recommended for prevention. 

Treatment Options

Treatment options can include the vitamins with the AREDS formulation, wearing sunglasses, anti-VEGF treatments for the more severe stages, along with eating a plant-based diet. 


If left untreated, AMD causes a growing area of vision loss in your central vision. Coming in for regular eye exams is the single most important thing you can do to prevent it.


As Optometrists, we can monitor patients and recommend preventative measures, follow-up with patients at risk of developing AMD, and co-manage care with Ophthalmologists when required. Alberta Health Care covers these visits.

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