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PURPOSE: The epidemiologic relationship between age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and arthritis is unknown and has implications for understanding disease pathogenesis and treatment strategies. METHODS: An AMD cohort of 245,912 people was constructed from English linked hospital episode statistics (1999-2011), principally comprising neovascular AMD patients undergoing anti-vascular endothelial growth factor therapy. We compared the AMD cohort with a reference cohort (2,134,771 people) for rates of subsequent osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis (2,032,472 people) and rheumatoid arthritis (261,232 people) cohorts were also constructed and compared with the reference cohort for rates of subsequent AMD. RESULTS: Risk of arthritis after AMD was not elevated. The rate ratio for OA was 0.96 (95% confidence interval 0.95-0.97) and for rheumatoid arthritis was 0.98 (0.94-1.02). However, risk of AMD after arthritis was modestly raised. For OA, the rate ratio was 1.06 (1.04-1.08), but risk increased with longer OA duration, for example, 1.15 (1.08-1.23) for >10 years. For rheumatoid arthritis, the rate ratio was also modestly elevated at 1.15 (1.12-1.19). CONCLUSION: Age-related macular degeneration and arthritis are degenerative aging conditions that share some disease mechanisms and extracellular matrix involvement. However, considering arthritis after AMD, they are not positively associated. By contrast, people with OA experience modestly increased AMD risk, perhaps owing to medical treatments for OA.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





2613 - 2618


Age Distribution, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Arthritis, Rheumatoid, Cohort Studies, Female, Humans, Macular Degeneration, Male, Medical Record Linkage, Middle Aged, Osteoarthritis, Risk Factors, United Kingdom