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Invited Commentary
December 2017

Age-Related Maculopathy—Degeneration by Generation

Author Affiliations
  • 1Unit of Health-Care Epidemiology, Big Data Institute, Li Ka Shing Centre for Health Information and Discovery, Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford, Oxford, England
  • 2National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland
  • 3University of Manchester, Manchester, England
JAMA Ophthalmol. 2017;135(12):1424-1425. doi:10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2017.5052

We are used to hearing that the burden of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in developed countries is increasing because of increased life expectancies and aging populations. However, it is also important to consider whether age-adjusted rates of AMD are changing and, if so, in which direction. Aside from helping predict future requirements for ophthalmic services, age-specific trends might provide important insights into AMD pathophysiology, particularly on the role of various environmental risk factors that may differ across generations. In this issue of JAMA Ophthalmology, Cruickshanks et al1 sought to address this question. The authors estimated AMD 5-year incidence separately for 4 successive generations of residents of Beaver Dam, Wisconsin: the Greatest Generation (born during 1901-1924), the Silent Generation (born during 1925-1945), the Baby Boom Generation (born during 1946-1964), and Generation X (born during 1965-1984). In this study, the authors conclude that each successive generation was more than 60% less likely to develop AMD than the previous generation.

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