Too Much Sun May Lead To Macular Degeneration
Extended exposure to strong sunlight may increase the risk of
age-related macular degeneration (AMD), according to 10-year
results from the Beaver Dam Eye Study.
For a decade, researchers followed nearly 2,800 individuals
who lived in a small Wisconsin town. All participants responded
to questionnaires designed to gauge sunlight exposure and had
their eyes examined.
Those exposed to summer sun for more than five hours a day during
their teens, in their 30s, and at the time of the study had double
the risk of developing early AMD compared with those exposed
for fewer than two hours a day during the same periods.
Wearing hats and sunglasses at least half the time was associated
with a decreased risk of developing macular abnormalities (soft
indistinct drusen and retinal pigment epithelium depigmentation),
but only among people reporting the highest levels of exposure
to summer sun. Hat and sunglass use had no effect on the risk
The study authors hypothesize that AMD risk may be related to
visible light, not ultraviolet light, which would help explain
the lack of effect from wearing sunglasses. But UV–blocking
sunglasses are still recommended as a possible way to reduce
the risk of cataracts.
Archives of Ophthalmology
Volume 122, page 750