Age related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness in individuals older than 65 years of age. It is a multifactorial disorder and identification of risk factors enables individuals to make life style choices that may reduce the risk of disease. This review discusses the role of genetics, sunlight, diet, cardiovascular factors, smoking, and alcohol as possible risk factors for AMD. Genetics plays a more significant role in AMD than previously thought, especially in younger patients, histocompatibility locus antigen (HLA) and complement system genes being the most significant. Whether the risk of AMD is increased by exposure to sunlight, cardiovascular risk factors, and diet is more controversial. Smoking is the risk factor most consistently associated with AMD. Current smokers are exposed to a two to three times higher risk of AMD than non-smokers and the risk increases with intensity of smoking. Moderate alcohol consumption is unlikely to increase the risk of AMD. Optometrists as front-line informers and educators of ocular health play a significant role in increasing public awareness of the risks of AMD. Cessation of smoking, the use of eye protection in high light conditions, dietary changes, and regular use of dietary supplements should all be considered to reduce the lifetime risk of AMD.