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Is early age-related macular degeneration related to carotid artery stiffness? The Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study
  1. Ning Cheung1,
  2. Duanping Liao2,
  3. F M Amirul Islam1,
  4. Ronald Klein3,
  5. Jie Jin Wang4,
  6. Tien Yin Wong1
  1. 1Centre for Eye Research Australia, University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  2. 2Department of Health Evaluation Sciences, Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, Hershey, Pennsylvania, USA
  3. 3Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin, USA
  4. 4Centre for Vision Research, University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  1. Correspondence to: Dr T Y Wong Centre for Eye Research Australia, University of Melbourne, 32 Gisborne Street, Melbourne, Victoria 3002, Australia; twong{at}


Background/Purpose: Atherosclerosis and vascular stiffness have been implicated in the pathogenesis of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The association of carotid artery stiffness, a measure of arterial elasticity reflecting early atherosclerosis, with early AMD, was examined in this study.

Methods: A population-based, cross-sectional study of 9954 middle-aged people (age range 51–72 years). The presence of AMD signs was determined from fundus photographs according to the Wisconsin grading protocol. Carotid arterial stiffness was measured from high-resolution ultrasonic echo tracking of the left common carotid artery, and was defined as an adjusted arterial diameter change (AADCμ). A smaller AADC reflects greater carotid artery stiffness. The associations of pulse pressure and carotid artery intima–media thickness (IMT) with early AMD signs were also analysed.

Results: In the study population, 454 (4.6%) had early AMD. The mean (SD) AADC was 403 (127) μ. After adjusting for age, sex, race/centre, education, cigarette smoking, fasting glucose, lipid profile and inflammatory markers, a smaller AADC was found to be not associated with early AMD (odds ratio 0.94; 95% confidence interval, 0.71 to 1.25) or its component lesions. Other measures of arterial stiffness (pulse pressure) and atherosclerosis (carotid IMT) were also not associated with early AMD.

Conclusions: Carotid artery stiffness was not associated with signs of early AMD in this middle-aged population. These data provide no evidence of a link between age-related elastoid changes and early atherosclerotic processes in the carotid arteries and early AMD.

  • AADC, adjusted arterial diameter change
  • AMD, age-related macular degeneration
  • ARIC, Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study
  • CAS, carotid artery stiffness
  • IMT, intima–media thickness

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  • Competing interests: None declared.

  • Published Online First 11 October 2006