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Low vitamin D linked to risk of age related macular degeneration

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Low vitamin D

Women under age 75 may have higher odds of developing age related macular degeneration (AMD). In a study of 1,313 women, researchers at University at Buffalo found vitamin D levels greater than 38 nanomoles per liter was associated with a 44 percent lower chance of developing AMD.

Low vitamin D and higher chance of AMD found in women's study

The analysis, published in the Archives of Ophthalmology, looked at serum levels of circulating vitamin D - 25-hydroxyvitamin D or 25 (OH) D and AMD among women who were part of the Carotenoids in Age-Related Eye Disease Study (CAREDS)". The research was led by Amy E. Millen, PhD, assistant professor in the UB School of Public Health and Health Professions.

For the study, researchers compared results of serum blood levels of vitamin D with photographic images of the fundus of the eye taken from 2001 to 2004. AMD affects the inner layer of the eye that is known as the retina. Yellow deposits in the center of eye cause visual disturbances that can progress to blindness. Baseline vitamin D levels were analyzed between 1993 and 1998.

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The researchers found women younger than age 75 whose serum 25(OH)D levels were lower than 38 nanomoles per liter had a lower risk of developing age related macular degeneration.

Dr. Millen says more studies are needed to understand the role of vitamin D and risk of developing the eye disease. She notes, "This is the second study to present an association between AMD status and 25(OH)D, and our data support the previous observation that vitamin D status may potentially protect against development of AMD."

Millen also says vitamin D levels higher than 38 nanomoles per liter didn’t seem offer extra protection against the disease. Age related macular degeneration, or AMD, is the leading cause of vision loss in older adults. In the study, low levels of 25 hydroxyvitamin D were associated with higher risk of vision loss in women younger than age 75.

Arch Ophthalmol. 2011;129(4):481-489. doi:10.1001/archophthalmol.2011.48

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