Objective: To describe the prevalence of age-related maculopathy (ARM) in blacks and whites and its relation to macrovascular disease and risk factors thereof in a population studied for cardiovascular disease risk factors and outcomes.
Population: A biracial population of 11532 adults (ranging from 48-72 years of age; 8984 whites and 2548 blacks) living in 4 US communities (Forsyth County, North Carolina; the city of Jackson, Miss; selected suburbs of Minneapolis, Minn; and Washington County, Maryland) were examined during the interval from 1993 to 1995.
Methods: Drusen and other lesions typical of ARM were identified by examining a 45 degrees color fundus photograph of 1 eye of each participant and classified by means of a modification of the Wisconsin Age-Related Maculopathy Grading System.
Results: The overall prevalence of any ARM was lower in blacks (3.7%) than whites (5.6%). After controlling for age and sex, the odds ratio for any ARM in blacks compared with whites was 0.73 (95% confidence interval, 0.58-0.91; P = .006). Few associations between atherosclerosis and its risk factors and the presence of early ARM or its component lesions were found. After adjusting for age, race, and sex, carotid artery plaque (odds ratio, 1.77; 95% confidence interval, 1.18-2.65) and focal retinal arteriolar narrowing (odds ratio, 1.79; 95% confidence interval, 1.07-2.98) were associated with retinal pigment epithelial depigmentation.
Conclusions: This population-based study documents the higher prevalence of early ARM in whites compared with blacks. Measures of atherosclerosis and its risk factors were generally unrelated to ARM and do not explain these racial differences.