New study links working outdoors to AMD riskNew research has shown that there could be some risk of AMD associated with those who spend a long time working in the sun. We are already aware of the risks associated with smoking, poor lifestyle and family history, but this new research potentially makes the likelihood of developing AMD greater.

Research published in the April issue of Retina has showed a ‘dose-related’ increase in the risk of early and late AMD in retirees. It cites that sunlight exposure at a younger age has an “influence on the development of severe eye disease… decades later.” This does mean that what is called ‘predisposing events’ can take place many years before the disease develops.

The research study

Researchers at the University Hospital of Cologne studied 3701 people participating in the European Genetic Database with a mean age of 72 years. They studied them for standard demographics, smoking history, iris colour, occupation and current and pass sun exposure – either 8 hours daily or more. Those who rarely went outside served as a reference group.

Early signs of AMD (drusen deposits in the eye) was detected in 20.3% of individuals and late AMD found in 31.9% of individuals, the remaining 47.8% had no AMD.

Read more results including the correlation between amounts of past sun exposure in this Medscape article.

Limiting sun damage

Easy measure for patients to take include wearing sunglasses, brimmed hats and limiting sun exposure to what is absolutely necessary.

In western society much of our work is now done in doors, with a shift towards office work compared with more outdoor work. The subjects in the study were more likely to have a career outdoors than we do now. Being indoors, often in front of a computer screen, does also pose risks and we don’t yet know what the effect of blue light will have on those working now when they reach retirement.

For everyone, young and old, it is important to see your optician or ophthalmologist regularly for eye checks, for sight correction but also to detect early signs of conditions like AMD.

Targeted screening is also a must, and our recent whitepaper explores the need for this. If certain groups who are more at risk also work outdoors more than those not at risk, then they need to be screened more regularly.

Patient education about screening and awareness raising of AMD will help us to detect the condition earlier and treat it most effectively to preserve sight.

Read the full study, or download our free whitepaper.

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