Hormone Therapy Does Not Affect Age-Related Vision Loss

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AMD and hormone therapy

Postmenopausal hormone therapy does not appear to increase or decrease the overall risk of AMD among women, although combination hormones may slightly reduce the chances of developing certain risk factors or types of the condition, according to a third report in the same issue.

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Mary N. Haan, M.P.H., Dr.P.H., University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and colleagues studied 4,262 women age 65 years and older who were part of the Women's Health Initiative Sight Exam Study, part of the larger Women's Health Initiative clinical trial of hormone therapy. Of those, 1,627 were in the estrogen-only group of the study, with 48.1 percent taking hormones and 51.9 percent taking placebo. The other 2,635 women were in the combination hormone trial; 52.3 percent of those participants were taking estrogen plus progestin pills and 47.7 percent received placebo. Participants underwent eye assessments and retinal photography at the beginning of the study, between April 2000 and June 2002.

After an average of five years of follow-up, 21 percent of the women had developed AMD. Neither combination nor estrogen-alone therapy was found to be associated with developing AMD. Among women in the combination trial only, active hormone therapy was associated with a slightly reduced risk of developing soft drusen - deposits in the eye that may precede AMD - and also lower odds of having neovascular AMD, a less common form of the condition in which blood vessels grow underneath the retina, impairing vision.

"We conclude that treatment with hormones does not influence the occurrence of early AMD," the authors conclude. "As an exception, a possible protective effect was found for soft drusen or neovascular AMD in relation to combined equine estrogens plus progestin." (Arch Ophthalmol. 2006;124:988-992)

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