Contribution of the Nurses’ Health Study to the Epidemiology of Cataract, Age-Related Macular Degeneration, and Glaucoma

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Abstract

Objectives

To review the contribution of the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) to understanding the genetic and lifestyle factors that influence the risk of cataract, age-related macular degeneration, and glaucoma.

Methods

We performed a narrative review of the publications of the NHS between 1976 and 2016.

Results

The NHS has helped to elucidate the roles of genetics, lifestyle factors (e.g., cigarette smoking associated with cataract extraction and age-related macular degeneration), medical conditions (e.g., diabetes associated with cataract extraction and glaucoma), and dietary factors (e.g., greater carotenoid intake and lower glycemic diet associated with lower risk of age-related macular degeneration) in the etiology of degree and progression of lens opacities, cataract extraction, age-related macular degeneration, primary open-angle glaucoma, and exfoliation glaucoma.

Conclusions

The findings from the NHS, combined with those of other studies, have provided compelling evidence to support public health recommendations for helping to prevent age-related eye diseases: abstinence from cigarette smoking, maintenance of healthy weight and diabetes prevention, and a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables.

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