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Eye (Lond). 2011 Jun;25(6):784-93. doi: 10.1038/eye.2011.56. Epub 2011 Mar 25.

The prevalence and analysis of risk factors for age-related macular degeneration: 18-year follow-up data from the Speedwell eye study, United Kingdom.

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  • 1Department of Social Medicine, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK.



To determine the prevalence of age-related maculopathy (ARM) and age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in men aged 65-83 years living in the Speedwell region of Bristol, United Kingdom and identify modifiable risk factors.


A total of 2348 men recruited to the Speedwell prospective cohort study in 1979 were followed up in 1997 with an eye questionnaire and had retinal photographs that were assessed using the International Classification System for ARM.


In all, 934 men (66.8% response rate) attended with a mean of 17.9 years (15.3-20.6 years) follow-up. Early ARM (grades 2-3) was found in 9.2% (95% confidence interval (CI) 7.4%, 11.4%) and late age-related maculopathy (grade 4, AMD) in 0.5% (95% CI 0.2%, 1.2%). The risk of ARM (grades 2-4) was increased with raised C-reactive protein and consumption of lard and solid fats, whereas triglyceride levels were associated with a lower risk. The latter were confirmed in multivariable analyses and in addition, haemodynamic measures also predicted risk (eg mean arterial pressure odds ratio (OR) per z-score 1.37, 95% CI 1.04, 1.79).


In a representative cohort of men aged 65-83 from Bristol, United Kingdom, many had macular changes that put them at higher risk of developing AMD. Various modifiable exposures were associated with an increased risk ARM/AMD. Opportunities for screening and undertaking secondary prevention interventions need to be explored to prevent progression of the disease and blindness.

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