New research shows extended exposure to sunlight may lead to age-related maculopathy, also called age-related macular degeneration an eye disorder that can cause blindness. Researchers observed more than 3,600 patients for five years and more than 2,700 patients for 10 years. Patients were between 43 and 86 years old.
Participants who reported being in the sun for more than five hours a day during their teens, 30s, and at the beginning of the study were three-times as likely to develop increased retinal pigment -- a characteristic of age-related maculopathy. These patients were also twice as likely to develop early age-related maculopathy over 10 years, compared to patients who reported spending less than two hours a day in the sun.
Results also show participants who reported being in the sun the most had about a 50-percent lower risk of developing characteristics of age-related macular degeneration when they used hats and sunglasses at least half the time.On the other hand, those who reported experiencing more than 10 severe sunburns during their childhood were 2.5-times more likely to develop abnormal blood vessels in their retinas, which is associated with age-related maculopathy.
However, researchers say there were no relationships between UV-B exposure, time spent outdoors during the winter, or skin sensitivity.