March 2012
Volume 53, Issue 14
ARVO Annual Meeting Abstract  |   March 2012
Correlation of Osteoporosis and Incidence of Skin Cancers and AMD grade in the Irish Nun Eye Study Population
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Evelyn Moore
    Ophthalmology, Royal Group Hospital, Belfast, United Kingdom
  • Vittorio Silvestri
    Ophthalmology, Royal Hospital Trust, Belfast, United Kingdom
  • Michael Stevenson
    Centre for Public Health,
    Queen's University, Belfast, United Kingdom
  • Giuliana Silvestri
    Centre for Vision and Vascular Science,
    Queen's University, Belfast, United Kingdom
  • Footnotes
    Commercial Relationships  Evelyn Moore, None; Vittorio Silvestri, None; Michael Stevenson, None; Giuliana Silvestri, None
  • Footnotes
    Support  HPSS R & D NI
Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science March 2012, Vol.53, 6516. doi:
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      Evelyn Moore, Vittorio Silvestri, Michael Stevenson, Giuliana Silvestri; Correlation of Osteoporosis and Incidence of Skin Cancers and AMD grade in the Irish Nun Eye Study Population. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2012;53(14):6516.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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The primary purpose of the Irish Nun Eye Study (INES) was to assess the prevalence of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in a female community with a protected lifestyle. The results show that the INES participants had just statistically significantly less AMD than individuals in the general population when compared with white females of European descent. Recent studies have reported that Vitamin D may play a protective role in AMD. The aim of this part of the INES was to investigate the relationship between osteoporosis (a marker for low Vitamin D levels and potentially lower UV exposure), skin cancer (a marker for high UV exposure) and AMD grade.


Nuns from the island of Ireland were enrolled in the study (n=1242). Age range was 60 -100 yrs with a mean age of 77.7yrs. The presence or absence of osteoporosis and the treatment regime was determined using a medical questionnaire. Information was also collected on demographic and ophthalmic status, dietary intake, sunlight exposure and history of skin cancer. AMD was graded using the Rotterdam Grading Scale from stereo digital images.


The prevalence of osteoporosis in the INES participants was 32.6% with no significant increase with age. From the treatment history, 24.3% were on treatment with calcium supplements and a bisphosphonate-type compound, 7.2% were on calcium supplements only and 1.0% did not know their medications. Only 2.3% of participants had a history of skin cancers. There was no correlation between severity of AMD grade with the presence of osteoporosis (p= 0.56). Correlation of AMD severity grade with the occurrence of skin cancer was difficult because of the small number of individuals affected by skin cancer in this group, however whilst there was no overall statistical correlation between AMD severity grade (p=0.642) there was a slight trend towards increased stages 2b and 3 with skin cancer. Analysis of type of therapy for osteoporosis also did not correlate with AMD severity (p=0.55).


Several studies have reported that Vitamin D metabolism may be implicated in the pathogenesis of AMD. The INES found no significant correlation for AMD severity and markers for low Vitamin D levels (osteoporosis). We plan to correlate AMD severity with dietary data and serum Vitamin D levels.

Keywords: age-related macular degeneration • clinical (human) or epidemiologic studies: prevalence/incidence 

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