Journal Article

Retinal Degeneration and Other Eye Disorders in Wives of Farmer Pesticide Applicators Enrolled in the Agricultural Health Study

Ellen F. Kirrane, Jane A. Hoppin, Freya Kamel, David M. Umbach, William K. Boyes, Anneclaire J. DeRoos, Michael Alavanja and Dale P. Sandler

in American Journal of Epidemiology

Published on behalf of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Volume 161, issue 11, pages 1020-1029
Published in print June 2005 | ISSN: 0002-9262
Published online June 2005 | e-ISSN: 1476-6256 | DOI:
Retinal Degeneration and Other Eye Disorders in Wives of Farmer Pesticide Applicators Enrolled in the Agricultural Health Study

Show Summary Details


Retinal degeneration is the leading cause of visual impairment in older adults. An association between retinal degeneration and fungicide use was observed previously among farmer pesticide applicators in the Agricultural Health Study, a large study of farm families from Iowa and North Carolina. The objective of this investigation was to determine whether wives of these farmer pesticide applicators were at increased risk of retinal degeneration. Self-reported cross-sectional data obtained via questionnaire between 1993 and 1997 from 31,173 wives were used. Associations of specific pesticides and groups of pesticides based on function (fungicides, herbicides, insecticides, and fumigants) or chemical structure (organophosphates, organochlorines, and carbamates) with eye disorders were evaluated using logistic and hierarchical logistic regression analyses. Self-reported retinal degeneration was associated with the wife's fungicide use (odds ratio = 1.9, 95% confidence interval: 1.2, 3.1) after adjustment for age and state of residence. Specific fungicides that appeared to drive this association were maneb or mancozeb and ziram. No associations between pesticide use and other eye disorders were found. Although these findings for retinal degeneration are based solely on self-reported disease, they are consistent with those reported for farmer pesticide applicators. These findings suggest that exposure to some fungicides and other pesticides may increase the risk of retinal degeneration and warrant further investigation.

Keywords: agriculture; eye diseases; occupational exposure; pesticides; retinal degeneration; spouses; CI, confidence interval; OR, odds ratio

Journal Article.  5560 words. 

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology

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