JAMA Logo Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a chronic, late-onset disease that may trigger degeneration of the macula. Apparently, it is the leading cause of adult irreversible vision loss in developed countries. A latest study suggests that high levels of vitamin D in the bloodstream can reduce the threat of developing early age-related macular degeneration in women below the age of 75 years.

As a part of the study, data from 1,313 women was inspected to find out whether serum 25(OH)D levels in the blood interfered with early age-related macular degeneration. Serum 25(OH)D appears as a preferred biomarker for vitamin D status, as it reflects vitamin D exposure from both oral sources and sunlight. All the study subjects were a part of the Carotenoids in Age-Related Eye Disease Study, an ancillary study within the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study.

Scientists quote, “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. More studies are needed to verify this association prospectively as well as to better understand the potential interaction between vitamin D status and genetic and lifestyle factors with respect to risk of early AMD.”

On adjusting for age and other known risk factors for AMD, no significant link between vitamin D status and early or advanced AMD was registered. Experts noted that 968 women younger than 75 years with higher levels of serum 25(OH)D had a considerably decreased risk of early AMD. However, 319 women aged 75 years and older with higher levels allegedly had a statistically significant increased threat.

In conclusion, it was affirmed that in women younger than 75 years, intake of vitamin D from foods and supplements was related to less chances of developing early AMD. Amy E. Millen, Ph.D., of the School of Public Health and Health Professions, University at Buffalo, New York, and colleagues mention that women who consumed the most vitamin D had a 59 percent decreased odds of developing early AMD than those who consumed the least vitamin D. All through the study no relationship between self-reported time spent in direct sunlight was observed, and the top food sources of vitamin D in the sample were milk, fish, fortified margarine as well as fortified cereal.

The study is published in the April issue of Archives of Ophthalmology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.