Objective: To describe the prevalence of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in 4 racial/ethnic groups (white, black, Hispanic, and Chinese) that participated in the second examination of the Multi-ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). Design: Prospective cohort study. Participants: Six thousand one hundred seventy-six 45- to 85-year-old subjects selected from 6 United States communities. Methods: Fundus images were taken using a 45° digital camera through dark-adapted pupils and were graded for drusen size, type, area, increased retinal pigment, retinal pigment epithelial depigmentation, neovascular lesions, and geographic atrophy using the modified Wisconsin Age-Related Maculopathy Grading System. Main Outcome Measure: Age-related macular degeneration. Results: Prevalences of AMD were 2.4% (black), 4.2% (Hispanic), 4.6% (Chinese), to 5.4% (white) (P<0.001 for any differences among groups). The highest prevalence of any AMD occurred in those 75 to 84 years old, varying from 7.4% in blacks to 15.8% in whites and Chinese (P = 0.03). Estimated prevalences of late AMD were 0.3% (black), 0.2% (Hispanic), 0.6% (white), and 1.0% (Chinese). These differences were marginally significant (age and gender adjusted, P = 0.08). The frequency of exudative AMD was highest in Chinese (age- and gender-adjusted odds ratio, 4.30; 95% confidence interval, 1.30-14.27) compared with whites. Differences in age, gender, pupil size, body mass index, smoking, alcohol drinking history, diabetes, and hypertension status did not explain the variability among the 4 racial/ethnic groups. Conclusions: Low prevalences of AMD were found in the MESA cohort in all groups. A lower prevalence of AMD was found in blacks compared with whites. The higher prevalence of exudative AMD in Chinese needs further study.
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