Sunlight and age-related macular degeneration. The Beaver Dam Eye Study

Arch Ophthalmol. 1993 Apr;111(4):514-8. doi: 10.1001/archopht.1993.01090040106042.


Objective: To investigate the relationship of sunlight exposure with age-related maculopathy. This was investigated in the population-based Beaver Dam Eye Study.

Design: In this cross-sectional population-based study, questionnaire data about sunlight exposure were obtained. Stereoscopic color fundus photographs were graded to determine the presence of age-related maculopathy.

Participants: People aged 43 through 84 years who resided in Beaver Dam, Wis, between 1987 and 1988 were examined between 1988 and 1990.

Results: Light exposure was not associated with early age-related maculopathy in women. In men, after adjusting for age, the amount of time spent outdoors in summer was associated with increased retinal pigment (odds ratio [OR], 1.44; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.01 to 2.04). Wearing eyeglasses was inversely associated with increased retinal pigment (OR, 0.75; 95% CI, 0.58 to 0.97), and the use of hats and sunglasses was inversely associated with soft indistinct drusen (OR, 0.61; 95% CI, 0.38 to 0.98). The amount of leisure time spent outdoors in summer was significantly associated with exudative macular degeneration (OR, 2.26; 95% CI, 1.06 to 4.81) and late maculopathy (OR, 2.19; 95% CI, 1.12 to 4.25). There were no associations between estimated ambient UV-B exposure and age-related maculopathy.

Conclusions: These data suggest that exposure to sunlight may be associated with age-related maculopathy. However, longitudinal studies of these associations are needed.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Fundus Oculi
  • Humans
  • Light / adverse effects
  • Macula Lutea / radiation effects
  • Macular Degeneration / epidemiology
  • Macular Degeneration / etiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Sunlight / adverse effects*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Wisconsin / epidemiology