Diet and risk factors for age-related maculopathy

Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Mar;87(3):712-22. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/87.3.712.


Background: Evidence continues to accumulate that oxidative stress is etiologically important in the pathogenesis of age-related maculopathy (ARM) and that appropriate antioxidants of dietary origin may protect against this condition.

Objective: Risk factors for ARM may be classed as established or putative. We report a study designed to investigate whether such risk factors are associated with a dietary lack of antioxidants relevant to retinal health.

Design: Dietary, anthropometric, and sociodemographic details relating to 828 healthy Irish subjects aged 20-60 y were recorded in a cross-sectional fashion and analyzed for associations between risk factors for ARM and dietary intake of relevant nutrients.

Results: Of the established risk factors for ARM, increasing age was associated with a relative lack of dietary zeaxanthin (P < 0.05) and tobacco use with a relative lack of dietary vitamin C (P < 0.05). Of the putative risk factors for ARM, alcohol consumption was associated with a relative lack of dietary alpha-linoleic acid (P < 0.05), and female sex was associated with a relative lack of dietary zinc (P < 0.05).

Conclusions: We showed that several variables related to risk for ARM are associated with a relative dietary lack of key nutrients. Our finding that age, the most important and universal risk factor for ARM, is associated with a relative lack of dietary zeaxanthin, is an important finding that warrants further investigation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Alcohol Drinking
  • Antioxidants / administration & dosage*
  • Ascorbic Acid / administration & dosage
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Ireland / epidemiology
  • Linoleic Acid / administration & dosage
  • Macular Degeneration / epidemiology
  • Macular Degeneration / etiology*
  • Macular Degeneration / prevention & control
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Xanthophylls / administration & dosage*
  • Zeaxanthins
  • Zinc / administration & dosage


  • Antioxidants
  • Xanthophylls
  • Zeaxanthins
  • Linoleic Acid
  • Zinc
  • Ascorbic Acid