Racial differences in the prevalence of age-related macular degeneration: the Baltimore Eye Survey

Ophthalmology. 1999 Jun;106(6):1049-55. doi: 10.1016/S0161-6420(99)90267-1.


Objective: To determine the prevalence of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and signs of age-related maculopathy in a population-based sample of blacks and whites 40 years of age or older from East Baltimore.

Design: Cross-sectional population-based study.

Participants: A total of 5308 black and white subjects received a screening eye examination that included fundus photography.

Main outcome measures: Stereoscopic color fundus photographs were graded for the presence and severity of drusen, pigmentary abnormalities, geographic atrophy, and choroidal neovascularization in the macula.

Results: Drusen > or = 64 microm were identified in about 20% of individuals in both groups, but large drusen (>125 microm) were more common among older whites (15% for whites versus 9% for blacks over 70). Pigmentary abnormalities were also more common among older whites (7.9% for whites versus 0.4% for blacks over 70). Age-related macular degeneration was more prevalent among whites than blacks. The prevalence of AMD was 2.1 % among whites over 70 years of age. No cases of AMD were detected among 243 black subjects in this age group. Logistic regression adjusting for age, sex and smoking (current, former, or never) detected an odds ratio of 4.4 (95% confidence interval: 1.5-12.4) for whites with AMD compared with blacks.

Conclusion: Although drusen are common in both blacks and whites over the age of 40, more severe forms of age-related maculopathy and late AMD are more prevalent in older whites.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Baltimore / epidemiology
  • Black People*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Fundus Oculi
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Macular Degeneration / diagnosis
  • Macular Degeneration / epidemiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Photography
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • White People*