Old-age eye problems grow for those with bad habits, genetic tendencies

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Obesity and smoking, in combination with a genetic predisposition, multiply the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration, according to a new study by doctors at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

In a study of more than 1,500 men and women lasting more than 30 years, researchers found that obese individuals who carried two copies of the CFH gene mutation, which is known to increase the risk of developing AMD by itself, were 12 times as likely as non-obese non-carriers of the gene to develop AMD.

Subjects with two copies of another gene mutation linked to AMD, LOC387715, had a 22 times greater risk of developing the potentially blinding degenerative eye disorder than those with two copies of the mutant gene who did smoke.

The study report was published in the January 2007 issue of the Archives of Ophthalmology.