To assess longitudinal associations between dietary fat and incident age-related maculopathy (ARM) in an older, population-based, historical cohort.

A total of 3654 persons, 49 years or older, participated in the Blue Mountains Eye Study (1992-1994); 2335 (75.1% of survivors) were reexamined after 5 years (1997-1999).
Dietary data were collected from 2895 people (79%) at baseline by means of a semiquantitative food frequency questionnaire to calculate dietary fat intakes. Presence of ARM was graded from retinal photographs (Wisconsin ARM Grading System). Logistic regression adjusted for age, sex, vitamin C intake, and smoking.

Participants with the highest vs lowest quintiles of n-3 polyunsaturated fat intake had lower risk of incident early ARM (odds ratio [95% confidence interval], 0.41 [0.22-0.75).

A 40% reduction of incident early ARM was associated with fish consumption at least once a week (odds ratio [95% confidence interval], 0.58 [0.37-0.90]), whereas fish consumption at least 3 times per week could reduce the incidence of late ARM (odds ratio [95% confidence interval], 0.25 [0.06-1.00]).

We found no association between incident ARM and butter, margarine, or nut consumption.

A regular diet high in n-3 polyunsaturated fat, especially from fish, suggests protection against early and late ARM in this older Australian cohort. Our study could not confirm deleterious effects of higher polyunsaturated fat intakes reported by other clinic-based studies.

PMID 16832021

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