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Am J Epidemiol. 1998 Jul 15;148(2):204-14.

Associations between antioxidant and zinc intake and the 5-year incidence of early age-related maculopathy in the Beaver Dam Eye Study.

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Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, University of Wisconsin Medical School, Madison, USA.


Associations between antioxidants and zinc and the 5-year incidence of early, age-related maculopathy (ARM) were investigated in a population-based cohort of middle-aged and older adults participating in the Beaver Dam Eye Study in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin. A food-frequency questionnaire was administered at baseline (1988-1990) to collect dietary information for that time period and a period of time 10 years earlier (1978-1980) from a 50 percent random sample of persons participating in this study. The incidence of the specific lesions of larger drusen (>125 microns) and pigmentary abnormalities and the incidence of any ARM were assessed by masked grading of stereoscopic color fundus photographs in 1,709 persons who participated in 5-year follow-up eye examinations. Significant, but modest, inverse associations (p < 0.05) were observed between intakes of pro-vitamin A carotenoids and dietary vitamin E and the incidence of large drusen and between zinc and the incidence of pigmentary abnormalities. No significant inverse associations were found between antioxidant or zinc intake and the incidence of overall early ARM. If ARM, which is characterized by a broad spectrum of lesions, involves a number of different underlying pathophysiologic processes, then associations between specific antioxidants and the incidence of distinct macular lesions may be biologically important. However, because there were too few incident late ARM cases in this cohort, the authors were unable to assess whether antioxidant intake is associated with the progression of early ARM to late-stage macular degeneration. Clinical trials and longer-term prospective studies are needed to elucidate further the impact of antioxidants and zinc on the development and progression of ARM.

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