Objective: To describe the relationship between type and level of fat in the diet and the prevalence of age-related maculopathy.
Design: Retrospective population-based study.
Setting and participants: Residents of Beaver Dam, Wis, between the ages of 45 and 84 years, participating in the Beaver Dam Eye Study and Nutritional Factors in Eye Disease Study.
Data collection: Presence and severity of age-related maculopathy were determined from masked grading of fundus photographs taken from 1988 through 1990. Diets in the past (1978 through 1980) were assessed retrospectively using a food frequency questionnaire during in-person home interviews.
Results: Persons with intake of saturated fat and cholesterol in the highest compared with the lowest quintile had 80% and 60% increased odds for early age-related maculopathy, respectively, after adjusting for age and intake of beer. These relationships were not influenced by adjusting for several other potential confounding variables (carotenoid intake, intake of vitamins C or E in supplements, smoking, body mass index, time spent outdoors in the summer, gender, and history of diabetes, hypertension, or cardiovascular disease). Odds ratios for late age-related maculopathy were in similar directions but were not statistically significant.
Conclusions: High intake of saturated fat and cholesterol is associated with increased risk for early age-related maculopathy in the Beaver Dam population. This supports the hypothesis that atherosclerosis or its risk factors are related to age-related maculopathy. Confirmation of this finding in other populations and in prospective studies is needed.