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April 1993

Sunlight and Age-Related Macular DegenerationThe Beaver Dam Eye Study

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Ophthalmology, University of Wisconsin Medical School, Madison.

Arch Ophthalmol. 1993;111(4):514-518. doi:10.1001/archopht.1993.01090040106042

• Objective.  —To investigate the relationship of sunlight exposure with age-related maculopathy. This was investigated in the population-based Beaver Dam Eye Study.

Design.  —In this cross-sectional population-based study, questionnaire data about sunlight exposure were obtained. Stereoscopic color fundus photographs were graded to determine the presence of age-related maculopathy.

Participants.  —People aged 43 through 84 years who resided in Beaver Dam, Wis, between 1987 and 1988 were examined between 1988 and 1990.

Results.  —Light exposure was not associated with early age-related maculopathy in women. In men, after adjusting for age, the amount of time spent outdoors in summer was associated with increased retinal pigment (odds ratio [OR], 1.44; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.01 to 2.04). Wearing eyeglasses was inversely associated with increased retinal pigment (OR, 0.75; 95% CI, 0.58 to 0.97), and the use of hats and sunglasses was inversely associated with soft indistinct drusen (OR, 0.61; 95% CI, 0.38 to 0.98). The amount of leisure time spent outdoors in summer was significantly associated with exudative macular degeneration (OR, 2.26; 95% CI, 1.06 to 4.81) and late maculopathy (OR, 2.19; 95% CI, 1.12 to 4.25). There were no associations between estimated ambient UV-B exposure and age-related maculopathy.

Conclusions.  —These data suggest that exposure to sunlight may be associated with age-related maculopathy. However, longitudinal studies of these associations are needed.