Exposure to sunlight and other risk factors for age-related macular degeneration

Arch Ophthalmol. 1989 Jun;107(6):875-9. doi: 10.1001/archopht.1989.01070010897038.


As some ultraviolet (UV) radiation is transmitted by the ocular media, there is a growing concern that there may be a possible relationship between long-term exposure to ultraviolet radiation and increased risk of age-related macular degeneration. To address this question, a survey was conducted of 838 Maryland watermen who had well-characterized ocular UV-A and UV-B exposure. Fundus photographs were taken and graded for presence of exudative disease, geographic atrophy, focal hyperpigmentation of the retinal pigment epithelium, and drusen that were large and/or confluent. None of the subjects in these analyses were aphakic. The results suggested that age-related macular degeneration was not associated with cumulative exposure to either UV-A or UV-B. Age and the presence of nuclear opacity were independently associated with an increased risk of macular degeneration. Thus, we found that in phakic subjects, even with high levels of sunlight exposure, there was no evidence of increased risk of age-related macular degeneration associated with UV-B or UV-A exposure.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Cataract / complications
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Data Collection / methods
  • Eye Color
  • Humans
  • Macula Lutea / pathology
  • Macular Degeneration / epidemiology
  • Macular Degeneration / etiology*
  • Macular Degeneration / pathology
  • Male
  • Maryland
  • Melanosis / complications
  • Middle Aged
  • Ophthalmoscopy
  • Photography
  • Pterygium / complications
  • Regression Analysis
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • Ultraviolet Rays / adverse effects*