Light exposure and the risk of age-related macular degeneration: the Pathologies Oculaires Liées à l'Age (POLA) study

Arch Ophthalmol. 2001 Oct;119(10):1463-8. doi: 10.1001/archopht.119.10.1463.


Background: The role of light exposure in the development of age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) has been questioned. We present the relationship between lifetime light exposure and ARMD as examined in the Pathologies Oculaires Liées à l'Age (POLA) study.

Methods: The POLA study is a population-based study on cataract and ARMD and their risk factors. It included 2584 residents of the town of Sète, located in the South of France. The presence of early and late ARMD was assessed on the basis of 50 degrees color fundus photographs using an international classification system. A questionnaire about light exposure was administered.

Results: Late ARMD (n = 38) was not significantly associated with any light exposure variable. Subjects exposed to high ambient solar radiation and those with frequent leisure exposure to sunlight had a decreased risk of pigmentary abnormalities (odds ratio [OR] = 0.61; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.39-0.93, and OR = 0.70; 95% CI, 0.52-0.95, respectively) and of early signs of ARMD (OR = 0.73; 95% CI, 0.54-0.98, and OR = 0.80; 95% CI, 0.64-1.00, respectively). Subjects who had used sunglasses regularly had a decreased risk of soft drusen (OR = 0.81; 95% CI, 0.66-1.00). These relationships were not modified by further adjustments for potential confounders.

Conclusion: Our study does not support a deleterious effect of sunlight exposure in ARMD.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Female
  • France / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Macular Degeneration / epidemiology*
  • Macular Degeneration / etiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Sunlight*