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June 1989

Exposure to Sunlight and Other Risk Factors for Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Author Affiliations

From the Dana Center for Preventive Ophthalmology, The Wilmer Institute and The School of Public Health, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore (Drs West and Taylor and Ms Munoz); Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical Center, Worcester (Dr Rosenthal); and The Retinal Vascular Center, The Wilmer Institute (Drs N. Bressler, S. Bressler, and Fine).

Arch Ophthalmol. 1989;107(6):875-879. doi:10.1001/archopht.1989.01070010897038

• As some ultraviolet (UV) radiation is transmitted by the ocular media, there is a growing concern that there may be a possible relationship between long-term exposure to ultraviolet radiation and increased risk of age-related macular degeneration. To address this question, a survey was conducted of 838 Maryland watermen who had well-characterized ocular UV-A and UV-B exposure. Fundus photographs were taken and graded for presence of exudative disease, geographic atrophy, focal hyperpigmentation of the retinal pigment epithelium, and drusen that were large and/or confluent. None of the subjects in these analyses were aphakic. The results suggested that age-related macular degeneration was not associated with cumulative exposure to either UV-A or UV-B. Age and the presence of nuclear opacity were independently associated with an increased risk of macular degeneration. Thus, we found that in phakic subjects, even with high levels of sunlight exposure, there was no evidence of increased risk of age-related macular degeneration associated with UV-B or UV-A exposure.