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    Vitamin D and Ocular Diseases

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    In an effort to provide a com­prehensive analysis of the effect of vitamin D on eye health, researchers in Hong Kong set out to conduct a sys­tematic review of the topic. Although some studies were hampered by signif­icant limitations, they found evidence of an association between vitamin D and age-related macular degeneration (AMD), diabetic retinopathy (DR), and dry eye syndrome (DES).1

    Impact on AMD

    IMPACT ON AMD. Although evidence from cross-sectional studies suggests that vitamin D may protect against AMD development, this effect is small or may only apply to specific populations. This image was originally published in the ASRS Retina Image Bank. James B. Soque, CRA, OCT-C, COA, FOPS, and Pamela Weber, MD. Exudative Macular Degeneration, Prominent Plaque – FA Early. Retina Image Bank. 2012; Image Number 1186. © The American Society of Retina Specialists.

    Study rationale. “Because vitamin D participates in a wide variety of actions [in the body], it is important for main­taining our [overall] health,” said Jason C. Yam, MD, at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. “We hypothesized that vitamin D is important for ocular health.” Indeed, a number of recently published studies have investigated the relationship between serum vitamin D levels and ocular disease.

    Findings and limitations. Dr. Yam and his coauthors searched two data­bases and found 162 published studies eligible for their review. Of 27 studies on AMD, 17 reported an association with vitamin D. In addition, 48 of 54 studies reported a link with DR, and 25 of 27 studies reported an association with DES. The available evidence for an association with other ocular disease is limited.

    However, as Dr. Yam noted, “Cur­rently, there is not any standardized protocol for conducting vitamin D re­search” in ophthalmology. For instance, different studies had different cut-off levels for vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency. Given the varying analysis methods used, as well as the inconsis­tent findings for some ocular diseases, “it is difficult for us to draw a conclu­sion on whether vitamin D has a role in some ocular diseases,” Dr. Yam said.

    Need for standardization. In the future, researchers will need to careful­ly consider different potential confounders such as sunlight intensity and duration of exposure, Dr. Yam noted. Thus, “before conducting more studies, we may need a standard protocol and questionnaire for collecting the data and accounting for confounding factors.”

    —Jean Shaw


    1 Chan H-N et al. Int J Mol Sci. 2022;23:4226.


    Relevant financial disclosures: Dr. Yam—None.

    For full disclosures and the disclosure key, see below.

    Full Financial Disclosures

    Dr. Bellsmith NIH: S; Research to Prevent Blindness: S.

    Dr. Galor AstraZeneca: C; Dompé: C; Eye Cool: C; Novar­tis: C; Ocular Therapeutix: C; Tarsus: C.

    Dr. Scott Allergan: S; NEI: S; Regeneron: C,S.

    Dr. Thomas NIH: S; Research to Prevent Blindness: S.

    Dr. Yam None.

    Disclosure Category



    Consultant/Advisor C Consultant fee, paid advisory boards, or fees for attending a meeting.
    Employee E Hired to work for compensation or received a W2 from a company.
    Employee, executive role EE Hired to work in an executive role for compensation or received a W2 from a company.
    Owner of company EO Ownership or controlling interest in a company, other than stock.
    Independent contractor I Contracted work, including contracted research.
    Lecture fees/Speakers bureau L Lecture fees or honoraria, travel fees or reimbursements when speaking at the invitation of a commercial company.
    Patents/Royalty P Beneficiary of patents and/or royalties for intellectual property.
    Equity/Stock/Stock options holder, private corporation PS Equity ownership, stock and/or stock options in privately owned firms, excluding mutual funds.
    Grant support S Grant support or other financial support from all sources, including research support from government agencies (e.g., NIH), foundations, device manufacturers, and\or pharmaceutical companies. Research funding should be disclosed by the principal or named investigator even if your institution receives the grant and manages the funds.
    Stock options, public or private corporation SO Stock options in a public or private company.
    Equity/Stock holder, public corporation US Equity ownership or stock in publicly traded firms, excluding mutual funds (listed on the stock exchange).


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