People with Allergies Have Significantly Reduced AMD Risk

December 12, 2013

A research team from Germany and the Netherlands found that people from their countries who reported having allergies had a significantly reduced risk for age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Results of the study, which involved 3,585 Caucasian individuals, were reported in the journal Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science. The study was led bySascha Fauser, M.D., Ph.D., of the University Hospital of Cologne in Germany.

After adjusting for other risk factors — age, gender, smoking and corticosteroid use — overall AMD risk for people with allergies was reduced by 25 percent. Late AMD risk for those allergic was reduced by 51 percent.

The protective effect of allergies appeared to be independent of the type of allergen; people with allergies to pollen, drugs, food, dust mites and other provoking agents all had reduced AMD risk.

Over the last decade, the retinal research community has known that increased activation of the complement system — the body’s immune response to infection — is linked to the development of AMD. However, study researchers did not find that allergies affected the level of complement activity. The scientists suspect that other allergy-related, immune-system factors may be linked to reduced AMD risk, but acknowledge that more research is needed to establish the association.