We prospectively evaluated 650 consecutive white patients with senile macular degeneration and compared them to a control group of 363 patients. Ocular pigmentation (iris color and fundus pigmentation) was recorded for each patient, as was hair color (as a child and young adult) and age at evaluation. Patients were from the New England states and Florida. Our most significant finding was that 494 patients with senile macular degeneration (76%) had light-colored irides compared with 145 of the controls (40%). Fundus pigmentation closely corresponded to iris pigmentation (P less than 0.01). Hair color was blond or light brown in 370 of the patients with senile macular degeneration (57%) and in 105 of the controls (29%). Further, there was a tendency for individuals with lightly pigmented irides to have senile macular degeneration at an earlier age than those with dark irides (P less than .01). Thus, increased ocular pigmentation tends to decrease the risk of developing senile macular degeneration.