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December 1990

Sunlight and Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Author Affiliations

Soesterberg, the Netherlands

Arch Ophthalmol. 1990;108(12):1670-1671. doi:10.1001/archopht.1990.01070140024009

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To the Editor.  —In a recent article in the Archives, West et al1 concluded that in a large group of watermen there was no evidence of increased risk of age-related macular degeneration associated with accumulated UV exposure. They quoted experimental data collected by Ham et al2 in Richmond (Va) as evidence of the vulnerability of the retina to UV radiation. We think the investigators should have looked for an association with visible light.In 1966, Noell et al3 convincingly showed that, after long-term exposure, rat retina could be severely damaged by visible light. In later studies, pigeons and monkeys were shown to exhibit a similar kind of damage after exposure to white light.4 The action spectrum for damage coincided with the absorption spectrum of the visual pigment rhodopsin, and it is, therefore, understandable that the type of light damage described by Noell et al does

West SK, Rosenthal FS, Bressler NM, et al.  Exposure to sunlight and other risk factors for age-related macular degeneration . Arch Ophthalmol . 1989;107:875-879.Article
Ham WT, Mueller HA, Sliney DH.  Retinal sensitivity to damage from short wavelength light . Nature . 1976;260:153-155.Article
Noell WK, Walker VS, Kang BS, Berman S.  Retinal damage by light in rats . Invest Ophthalmol . 1966;5:450-473.
Kremers JJM, van Norren D.  Two classes of photochemical damage to the retina . Lasers Light Ophthalmol . 1988;2:41-52.