Purpose: Experimental and epidemiological studies suggest that low antioxidant intake may be associated with the occurrence of neovascular age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
Methods: We investigated this hypothesis further with a case-control study involving 72 case and 66 control patients attending the Ophthalmology Department of the University Hospital in Nijmegen. Data were collected by interview on antioxidant intake (i.e. in fruit and vegetables), cigarette smoking, sunlight exposure and familial predisposition. Antioxidant intake was calculated according to the method described in the Framingham Eye Study. Logistic regression analysis was used to estimate odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI).
Results: The prevalence rate of AMD in patients with low antioxidant intake and low lutein intake (dichotomized at the median value) was about twice as high as that in patients with high intake: OR = 1.7, 95% CI (0.8-3.7), and OR = 2.4, 95% CI (1.1-5.1). Further specification of intake data into quartiles of antioxidant intake and lutein/zeaxanthine intake showed a clear dose-response relationship.
Conclusion: The effect of dietary antioxidants upon macular health warrants preventive studies.