Purpose: To examine the prevalence of age-related maculopathy (drusen and retinal pigmentary abnormalities) and end-stage age-related macular degeneration lesions (neovascular maculopathy or geographic atrophy) in a defined older Australian urban population.
Subjects: All noninstitutionalized residents 49 years of age or older who were identified in a door-to-door census of two postcode areas west of Sydney, Australia.
Methods: All participants received a detailed eye examination, including stereoscopic photographs of each macula. Two trained graders used the Wisconsin Age-related Maculopathy Grading System to assess the presence and severity of typical lesions.
Results: A marked age-related increase in all typical lesions of age-related maculopathy and macular degeneration was observed. End-stage age-related macular degeneration was present in 1.9% of the population, rising from 0% among people younger than 55 years of age to 18.5% among those 85 years of age or older. Soft drusen were found in 13.3% of people, with distinct drusen more frequent than indistinct soft drusen. Retinal pigmentary abnormalities were found in 12.6% of people. For end-stage lesions and soft drusen, females had higher age-specific prevalence rates than males, whereas retinal pigmentary abnormalities were more frequent in males, although most of these differences were not significant. Prevalence rates for all lesions were lower (statistically significant for retinal pigmentary abnormalities and soft drusen) than for the United States Beaver Dam Eye Study which examined a similar population.
Conclusions: These data provide detailed prevalence rates for most components of ARM in an Australian population and reinforce the Beaver Dam Eye Study findings for the relative age-specific frequency of age-related macular degeneration components.