Women More at Risk for AMD

Women More at Risk for AMD

As medical research continues to advance, so do the precise predictions of human health. Detailed DNA triggers are emerging every day giving the medical community more of an upper hand than ever before when it comes to mitigating illness or avoiding it altogether.

In the case of the blinding disease of wet and dry macular degeneration, as we age the presentation of this pathology could be as high as 50% for those with developed large drusen. Drusen are plaque deposits that sometimes develop on the retina and are considered one of the major causes of AMD (age-related macular degeneration).

Now, the statistic of gender is becoming even more prominent when it comes to who is more at risk: males or females. It turns out that women are once again in the crosshairs. 

Learn why women are more at risk for AMD and what you can do to possibly prevent or at least slow AMD progression, particularly if you are female.


Women used to describe later stage of life system as “going through my changes” but now they call it what it is, menopause.

A study by Korean researchers published in Scientific Reports found a connection between menopause and the eye conditions retinal vein occlusion (RVO) and retinal artery occlusion (RAO) which, if left untreated could develop into macular degeneration.

The study reported,

“In conclusion, this nationwide population-based health screening cohort study investigated the association between female reproductive parameters and the risk of retinal vascular occlusions and revealed that early menopause is an independent risk factor for future RVO and RAO development. Our findings suggest that clinicians should obtain reproductive history when dealing with postmenopausal women with a possible risk of retinal vascular occlusions and inform patients with early menopause that they have a higher risk of retinal vascular occlusion.”

As mentioned in the above conclusion, making your ophthalmologist aware of your menopause status could be essential to your eye health and avoiding macular degeneration.

Reproductive Risk

So, when it comes to macular degeneration, being able to have children can be a blessing and a curse at the same time. According to a study of 4,377 post-menopausal women in relation to macular degeneration, some mothers could develop AMD while others may be spared all according to their pre-menopausal reproductive activity.

The study, another by Korean researchers which was published by Research Gate, stated that,

“In conclusion, the current study suggest a longer period of lactation might protect against late AMD. We also presented our novel finding that a longer use of OCP [oral contraceptive pills] increases the risk of late AMD. These findings could elucidate [clarify] the development of AMD and help the screening of patients at risk as well as the prevention of AMD among postmenopausal women in public health.”

In essence, this study suggests that breastfeeding may actually have a protective effect against AMD with a significant 9% drop in AMD risk during six months of interval lactation. On the other hand, if oral contraceptive pills (OCP) are used for long periods of time, there is the presentation in some women that AMD may be more of a risk factor due to cardiovascular compromise. Some OCP use has been linked to diseases such as:

  • Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Stroke
  • Myocardial infarction

These diseases are not directly related to macular degeneration but they are related to the heart and it has been researched that when there is a cardiovascular compromise, macular degeneration could develop. With OCP use risking cardiovascular health, it is no surprise that this contributes to women being at more risk for AMD.


As mentioned, problems with cardiovascular function could lead to AMD. Hypertension aka high blood pressure is prominent in the American population with approximately more men developing this disease than women.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC),

“A greater percentage of men (50%) have high blood pressure than women (44%)”

Even though this stat shows men are at risk, it is still the significantly high percentage of women with hypertension that makes this cohort more susceptible to future AMD. This was shown in several studies including one from the Department of Ophthalmology, University of Colorado School of Medicine published in the International Journal of Ophthalmology which concluded that,

“Among females treated hypertension is significantly higher among e/iAMD [early/intermediate (e/i) age-related macular degeneration]/RPD [reticular pseudodrusen] patients, whereas for males there is no significant association.”

If you have hypertension and are a woman it is more important than ever to remain vigilant with a thorough eye exam every six months. This will ensure early detection if AMD is developing particularly if you are struggling with hypertension. In the meantime, a good health diet rich in dominantly plant-based choices and a strong weight training/cardiovascular exercise protocol could help minimize your hypertension which in turn can help minimize your AMD risk factor.  

Bad to the Bone

Osteoporosis seems epidemic, especially in women. This is a weakening of the bones to the extent that there can be easy fractures and breaks. As a result many women need to be prescribed special drugs to keep their bones from deteriorating.

According to the Hospital for Special Surgery, New York, NY, it was stated that,

“Among people with osteoarthritis, there are twice as many women as men, especially for those with arthritis in the knees and hands. Symptoms typically begin to appear in women in their 40’s and 50’s, and the disparity becomes even greater after age 55, after women enter menopause.”

Macular degeneration has recently shown to be linked to osteoarthritis and people who suffer with this bone condition may have an additional visual challenge as well. In a study of these two diseases, 60,274 participants were enrolled in the trial that lasted 8.9 years. The study which was conducted at the National Taiwan University Hospital and published in Frontiers in Medicine concluded that,

“Persons with OA have an increased risk of developing AMD, regardless of age and sex.”

Therefore, being that women are two times as likely to develop osteoarthritis it looks like AMD is waiting in the wings.

This information of women more at risk for macular degeneration is essential for those women that want to maintain healthy eyesight. Alerting your doctor to these stats and staying on top of eye checkups while practicing a healthy lifestyle just may give you the upper hand against this blinding disease.