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Early AMD Associated With Several Modifiable Risk Factors

Factors linked to early age-related macular degeneration include smoking, HDL cholesterol level

WEDNESDAY, June 16 (HealthDay News) -- Early age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is associated with modifiable risk factors including smoking and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol level, according to research published in the June issue of the Archives of Ophthalmology.

Ronald Klein, M.D., of the University of Wisconsin in Madison, and colleagues studied digital color fundus images of 2,810 people aged 21 to 84 years to describe the prevalence of AMD in the overall -- as opposed to an older -- population.

Overall, the researchers found that early AMD was seen in 3.4 percent of the patients, with the changes present in 2.4 percent of those under age 35 and in 9.8 percent of those age 65 years and older. Variables associated with an increased risk of AMD included increasing age (odds ratio [OR], 1.22 per five years interval), male gender (OR, 1.65), and hearing impairment (OR, 2.28). Smoking also increased the odds of early AMD by 31 to 67 percent depending on the number of pack-years smoked, and higher HDL cholesterol levels mitigated the risk (OR, 0.91 per 5 mg/dL increase).

"The higher frequency of AMD in people aged 65 years or older in an aging American population makes this an important public health problem. Further information regarding the natural history of AMD and its risk factors, especially early in life, is important for developing preventive approaches to it," the authors write.

Klein has served as a consultant to Pfizer and Genentech.

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