The prevalence of the eye disease known as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is similar among persons of Chinese, Malay, and Indian ethnicities in Asia, according to a study being published Online First by the Archives of Ophthalmology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.
Age-related macular degeneration is one of the leading causes of blindness in the elderly population, according to background information in the article. AMD progressively affects the central portion of the retina and impairs sharp central vision needed for seeing objects clearly and for performing daily tasks such as reading and driving. Despite the importance of AMD as an aging condition in Asia, there are few population-based studies conducted among Asian populations.
Chui Ming Gemmy Cheung, F.R.C.Ophth, of the Singapore National Eye Centre, and colleagues conducted a population-based study of persons of Chinese, Malay, and Indian ethnicities to describe the prevalence of AMD and risk factors for the disease among the three Asian groups. The study participants underwent comprehensive systemic and ocular examination, retinal photography, and laboratory investigations.
The researchers found that AMD was present in 211 of 3,172 study participants. The age-standardized prevalence of AMD was 7 percent in people age 40 years and older. “The age-standardized prevalence was similar in all three Asian ethnic groups: Chinese, 7.3 percent; Malay, 7.7 percent; and Indian, 5.7 percent,” the authors report. “The prevalence increased with age and was higher in men,” they write.
The researchers analyzed a range of systemic risk factors. Myopia (nearsightedness) was significantly associated with a reduced risk of AMD in Chinese men. No associations were found with smoking, blood pressure, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, and the other risk factors examined in the study.
“The prevalence of AMD was similar in the three major ethnic groups in Asia and comparable with white populations,” the authors conclude. “Myopic refractive error was associated with reduced risk of AMD in Chinese men.”
(Arch Ophthalmol. Published online December 12, 2011. doi:10.1001/archophthalmol.2011.376.