The Genetic Link Between AMD and Vitamin D

Oct 23, 2015 | Eye Health

Vitamin D has been studied extensively in relation to bone health as well as cancer. Now, a team led by a researcher at the University at Buffalo has discovered that vitamin D may play a significant role in the prevention of age-related macular degeneration among women genetically predisposed to AMD.

Amy Millen, associate professor in the University of Buffalo’s School of Public Health, led the team that found that vitamin D deficiency in women, with a high-risk genotype, are 6.7 times more likely to develop AMD than the control group.

Researchers analyzed data compiled on 1,230 women ages 54 to 74 that participated in the Carotenoids in Age-related Eye Disease Study (CAREDS). The study was conducted at three of the centers: University of Wisconsin (Madison), the University of Iowa (Iowa City) and the Kaiser Center for Health Research (Portland, Oregon).

Human skin can synthesize vitamin D when exposed to ultraviolet light, Millen explains. However, for many people, 15 to 30 minutes a day with 10 percent of their skin exposed might be sufficient. In winter months, sun exposure may need to be augmented with dietary vitamin D.

Dietary sources of vitamin D include fortified foods such as milk and foods that naturally contain vitamin D such as fatty fish like salmon and mackerel.

Vitamin D shows promise for protecting against macular degeneration because of its anti-inflammatory and antiangiogenic properties; antiangiogenic refers to slowing the growth of new blood vessels, often seen in late stages of AMD.

For more information about this study, please see the JAMA August 27, 2015 Issue.