STUDY OBJECTIVE--The aim was to determine, employing non-invasive procedures, the prevalence of age related macular degeneration in persons 50 years of age and over. DESIGN--A clinical investigation and a retrospective examination of ophthalmological records were employed in this study. SETTING--The study was conducted over the period 1988 to 1990 in the Western Metropolitan Health Region of New South Wales, Australia. PARTICIPANTS--A total sample of 3283 subjects stratified by local government area, age, and sex was obtained from the source population. It proved possible to confirm ophthalmological diagnoses in only 2522 of these subjects. MAIN RESULTS--All data were collected using accepted ophthalmological procedures and all diagnoses were confirmed through the use of independently derived ophthalmological records. A total of 428 subjects (13.0%) had a confirmed symmetrical diagnosis of age related macular degeneration. A total prevalence for diseased eyes of 14.9% was obtained. Prevalence of diseased eyes rose from 10.4% in those 50 to 64 years of age to 31.0% in those 85 years of age and over. CONCLUSIONS--There are several sources of error which can affect such a large sample study and are identified. Despite these, the prevalence rates obtained in this study provide normative rates for age related macular degeneration for persons 50 years of age and over.
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