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How does calcium intake affect the risk of age-related macular degeneration?

Age-related macular degeneration has been associated with an increase and decrease of dietary and supplementary calcium intake. This study aimed to clarify these mixed results.

Age-related macular degeneration is one of the leading causes of irreversible blindness in developed countries. It is usually associated with an increase in age. The retina is located at the back of the eye, consisting of light-sensing nervous tissue. The macula is the small central part of the retina, which is what begins to deteriorate during age-related macular degeneration.

Previously, the role of dietary and supplementary calcium in age-related macular degeneration has been unclear. Mixed findings have indicated that either increasing or decreasing calcium intake can be harmful. To clarify this, Tisdale and colleagues evaluated the association of dietary and supplementary calcium intake with the progression of age-related macular degeneration. They published their results in JAMA Ophthalmology.

They investigated studies that included participants enrolled in the Age-Related Eye Disease Study, which enrolled patients from academic and community-based retinal practices in the United States between 1992 and 2001. The study included men and women with varying severity of age-related macular degeneration.

The study found that more dietary and supplementary calcium intake was associated with a lower incidence of progression to late age-related macular degeneration. However, it is important to note that one of the biggest limitations of this study is that the amount of calcium intake was self-reported. Therefore, more studies considering this hypothesis are needed.

Written by Unaisa Bhayat, BMedSc

Reference: Tisdale A. K., Agron E., Sunshine S. B., Clemons T. E., Ferris F. L., Chew E. Y. Association of Dietary and Supplementary Calcium Intake With Age-Related Macular Degeneration. JAMA Ophthalmology. 2019.



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