Recent research published online in JAMA Ophthalmology has shown that vitamin D may help prevent age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in women who are more genetically prone to developing the disease.
Researchers analyzed data from 1,230 women ages 54 to 74 and were able to determine each participant’s vitamin D intake including diet, supplements, and sunlight through analysis of serum samples for a vitamin D biomarker. Among the genes linked to AMD, one of the strongest is a genetic variant called CFH. Researchers found that the odds of AMD were highest in those with a vitamin D deficiency and this high-risk genetic variant, suggesting a synergistic effect between the two.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is an eye disease in which the macula of the eye deteriorates. The macula is an oval-shaped pigmented area near the center of the retina of the eye. As the macula deteriorates, central vision is affected, but peripheral vision remains clear. For example, a person with AMD can see the outline of a clock but cannot tell what time it is.
Although this study is insightful, it’s important to note that the study alone cannot prove a causal association, though it does suggest that if you are at a high genetic risk for AMD, having sufficient vitamin D may reduce your risk.
Ophthalmologist Thomas Henderson, M.D. comments, “It is interesting to note that while sun exposure is a risk factor for macular degeneration, vitamin D which is generated in the skin with sun exposure is likely somewhat protective against some forms of macular degeneration.”
If you think you may have a genetic risk for AMD, it’s important to speak with your ophthalmologist so they can determine what kind of testing may be needed in order to protect your vision.