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The Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES-III) provides a wealth of information on the Health Status of Americans. As one part of this cross-sectional survey study, researchers evaluated the relationship between serum levels of various antioxidant micronutrients and the prevalence of AMD. Data were presented at the 1998 annual meeting of the Society for Epidemiologic Research in Chicago (1).
Cross-sectional relationships of serum levels of vitamins C, E and various carotenoids to the following: late AMD, presence of pigment abnormalities, and the presence of soft drusen (the latter 2 factors considered as early predictors of late AMD). Fundus photos and serum samples were obtained on 7935 participants age 40 and older. Age adjusted and multivariate logistic models were used. Factors adjusted for in the analyses included age, sex, race, smoking, alcohol, body mass index, hypertension, diabetes and eye color.
Prevalence of late AMD was 0.7%, while prevalence of overall AMD (not defined in Abstract) was 10.8%. In this cross sectional study, serum levels of vitamin C or vitamin E were not related to overall prevalence of AMD. However there were suggestive relationships found for pre-AMD conditions such as pigment abnormalities and soft drusen. In non-Hispanic whites, serum lutein level was weakly related to some pigment abnormalities. High vs. low levels of serum vitamin E was associated with a 30% decreased prevalence of soft drusen (vitamin supplement use was excluded as a confounding factor presumably because usage subsequent to diagnosis could not be determined). The authors stated that the data did not support a strong cross-sectional association between serum antioxidants and presence of AMD but recommended further study of the effect of lutein and vitamin E on AMD.
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