Purpose: To determine the prevalence of age-related maculopathy in an elderly population in The Netherlands.
Methods: Fundus photographs of 6251 participants of the Rotterdam Study, a single-center prospective follow-up study in persons 55 to 98 years of age, were reviewed for the presence of drusen, pigmentary abnormalities, and atrophic or neovascular age-related macular degeneration.
Results: The prevalence of at least one drusen of 63 microns or larger increased from 40.8% in persons 55 to 64 years of age to 52.6% in those 85 years of age or older. Similarly, the prevalence of the following abnormalities increased significantly in these age categories: drusen of 125 microns or larger from 4.8% to 17.5%, retinal pigment epithelial hypopigmentations from 3.5% to 9.0%, and increased retinal pigment from 3.7% to 15.3%. Atrophic or neovascular age-related macular degeneration was present in 1.7% of the total population. Atrophic age-related macular degeneration increased from 0.1% in persons 55 to 64 years of age to 3.7% in those 85 years of age or older. Neovascular age-related macular degeneration increased from 0.1% to 7.4% in these age groups. No sex differences were observed for these lesions.
Conclusions: The prevalence of atrophic or neovascular age-related macular degeneration is 1.7%. In those 55 years of age or older, the prevalence increases strongly with age and it is similar in men and women. Neovascular age-related macular degeneration was twice as common as atrophic age-related macular degeneration. These findings suggest that age-related maculopathy may be less common in this European population than in similar populations in the United States.