AMD erodes and can eventually destroy the central vision needed for reading, driving, and other daily tasks. When AMD risk levels among racial and ethnic groups are compared, Caucasians are usually identified as at highest risk.
Asians in particular have been assumed to have lower risk. Recently Ryo Kawasaki, MD, and colleagues compared the prevalence of early and late AMD in approximately 4,000 residents of Funagata, Japan, to the rate in white participants in the Australian Blue Mountains Eye Study (BMES); diagnostic definitions were identical in the two studies and age standardization enhanced data comparability. Importantly, the Funagata study is the first in a Japanese population to confirm a link between smoking and AMD prevalence.
The overall AMD prevalence rate in right eyes was 4.1 percent for the Funagata study, very close to the BMES rate of 4.4.percent. Prevalence of late AMD in men was also comparable for the two groups, 1.1 percent for Funagata participants and 1.2 percent for BMES, but was markedly different for the two groups of women: 0.3 percent and 2.1 percent, respectively. The authors note that these findings need to be confirmed by larger studies in Asian populations. Two earlier studies also found a higher prevalence of late AMD in Asian men, in contrast with most studies in Caucasians where rates are higher for women.
The authors think a key reason may be that 36.8 percent of the Funagata men smoked, but only 2.8 percent of the women. In the BMES study, 14.4 percent of women were smokers. While many Asian men smoke, the habit is less socially acceptable for women. "As smoking is a well-recognized, modifiable AMD risk factor, smoking cessation is an important public health measure to reduce AMD, particularly among Japanese men," Dr. Kawasaki says.
This research was published in the August issue of Ophthalmology.
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