Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common cause of blind adults in many developed countries, including Europe. AMD is considered to represent the most severe form of a series of morphological changes in the retina that occur in the eye due to aging. It occurs predominantly in the older population, especially in those older than 70 years.
The Eureye study is a European project on visual disability and age-related Macular Degeneration of the Retina whose main objectives were:
• Establish the prevalence of age-related maculopathy, including macular degeneration, and associated impairment of vision in the European setting.
• Measure the impact of these conditions on vision related to quality of life.
• Identify the environmental determinants of macular degeneration in the European environment, with special attention to solar radiation and antioxidants.
EUREYE is a multicenter cross-sectional study of prevalence of macular degeneration in the elderly in seven European countries. Each center follows an identical protocol for the examination of the eyes and the evaluation of risk factors.
The aim is to examine 800 people over 65 years of age in each of the seven centers, giving rise to a sample of 6000 people in whom a prevalence of AMD was detected from 2% ± 0.5% to 95% confidence.
Socio-demographic data, tobacco consumption habits, alcohol consumption, cardiovascular risk factors, history of eye disease, use of aspirin and other analgesics and, in women, reproductive history and the use of drug therapy were recorded. Hormone replacement
The dietary intake during the last 12 months was evaluated in a semi-quantitative way by means of a Food Frequency Questionnaire (CFA). This questionnaire consists of 131 items and is a modification of the original questionnaire which included questions about whether the interviewee had made any special diet, the use of vitamin supplements and other fats.
It is estimated that 3.3% (95% CI: 2.5% to 4.1%) of the European population aged 65 or older suffers from AMD.
The prevalence is 40% higher in women than in men. The prevalence increases sharply with age. If this figure applies to the entire European population over 65, this would indicate that approx. 2.1 million people with AMD among the first 15 countries of the EU or 2.5 million with the recent incorporation of the 10 nations.
Our results confirm that visual impairment is frequent in the age group of 65 and over and that the risk of visual impairment, including low vision and blindness, increases sharply in the older age groups. Particularly noteworthy are the high levels of visual impairment in women (twice as much as in men).
There was a marked decrease in the quality of life related to the increase in the degree of visual disability. People who were blind or had AMD had drastically reduced scores, particularly for near and far activities.
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This study was funded by the V EU Framework Program and the FIS 01 / 1692E. The principal investigator of the Spanish center was Jesús Vioque and the main researcher of the European project was Astrid Fletcher.