High Blood Pressure and AMDOne of the biggest health crises for Baby Boomers is age-related macular degeneration (otherwise known as AMD).  It’s thought that up to 11 million Americans over the age of 65 suffer from this condition, which can cause severe vision loss and even blindness if left untreated.  As the name of the disease suggests, the macula – the area of the eye responsible for allowing you to see finer details clearly – is deteriorated by the disease, which makes it harder for someone to see.  Severe cases of the disease eventually result in blindness.

Although the jury is still out on the causes of AMD, it’s thought that the following activities can significantly increase your risk factor for developing this disease:

  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • Hereditary risks
  • Increased age

If you have any or all of the above risks associated with AMD, it’s important to schedule regular eye exams with your ophthalmologist.  He or she can help spot the warning signs of AMD; if caught, the disease can be treated and maintained, thus helping you preserve your vision for years to come.

With that in mind, let’s examine one of the risk factors associated with developing AMD: high blood pressure.  A number of studies have been conducted on the connections between high blood pressure and AMD.  One such study includes the National Eye Institute-funded Beaver Dam Eye Study, which has conducted research on these links since 1987.  In this extensive research trial, over 5,000 residents of Beaver Dam, Wisconsin were studied to determine the connection between high blood pressure and AMD.  Researchers found that using any sort of high blood pressure drug – also referred to as a vasodilator – was associated with a greater risk of developing AMD.   The study demonstrated that only 8.2 percent of the population developed early AMD, while 19.1 percent of those who took high blood pressure medications developed the disease.

While there is still much more research to be done to establish a definitive connection between high blood pressure and AMD, it is important to note that those individuals treating their high blood pressure must be absolutely vigilant about scheduling regular exams with their ophthalmologist.  AMD can be treated if caught early, so be sure to set up yearly appointments.

To learn more about your risks for AMD, schedule an appointment with Dr. Jacqueline Griffiths at NewView Eye Center in Reston, VA today.  NewView also serves the greater Northern Virginia and Washington, DC areas. Just fill out the form in the top left corner or call 703-834-9777.