(From the MyVisionTest Newsletter)
A new research study published in the May 2008 edition of the British Journal of Ophthalmology finds that lifetime exposure to sunlight is an important factor in the progression of late AMD (age related macular degeneration. They report that an individual's sensitivity to sunlight exposure may have a role in AMD progression in addition to total lifetime exposure to sunlight.
In this case-control study of 215 Japanese men aged 50 years and older, facial wrinkle length and area of hyper-pigmentation, which are considered to be associated with exposure to the sun, were measured using imaging and computer-based image analysis. Skin tone was also measured on the upper inner arm, which is not exposed to direct sunlight. Early and late AMD association with skin measurements was evaluated.
The researchers found significantly more facial wrinkling and less facial hyper-pigmentation was present in late AMD cases. The relationship between skin tone and AMD risk was not statistically significant.
The investigators conclude that lifetime exposure to sunlight is an important factor in the progression of late AMD. An individual's reaction to sunlight exposure, as reflected through the development of focal hyperpigmentation on sun-exposed skin, may have a role in AMD progression in addition to total lifetime exposure to sunlight.
WHAT IT MEANS TO YOU: There is good evidence that sunlight exposure plays some role in the development of cataract and macular degeneration. The precise nature of this role remains to be defined, but it makes sense to take appropriate precautions to safeguard your eyes when spending time outdoors. These precautions include a broad brimmed hat and 100% UV filtering sunglasses. For additional protection, consider blue-blocker sunglasses. Those individuals that are most sun-sensitive (ie. burn easily, less hyperpigmentation) appear to be most at risk for the damaging effects of sunlight.
Nathan Bonilla-Warford, OD
Bright Eyes Family Vision Care
Located in the Westchase area of Tampa.