Date of Conferral



Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)


Public Health


Donald Goodwin


Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a chronic, irreversible disease that robs individuals of vision, quality of life, and independence. It is the leading cause of blindness in industrialized countries. Sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) is a condition characterized by repeated episodes of apnea and/or hypopnea, insomnia, short sleep duration, and/or sleep disturbances (snoring, gasping, etc.). Because SDB has been shown to cause chronic hypoxia resulting in oxidative stress on the retina, it has been proposed that SDB may be associated with AMD. Based on the life course theory of chronic disease, this quantitative, cross-sectional study used data from the 2005-2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to study whether there was an association between SDB and AMD, including neovascular AMD and geographic atrophy in adults 40 years and older. Descriptive statistics and logistic regression analyses were used. The results suggest that AMD is associated with diagnosed sleep disorders, including sleep apnea and insomnia, as well as sleep apnea symptoms of gasping snoring, snorting, and stopping breathing. The findings of this study highlight the importance of diagnostic screening and therapeutic intervention to treat SDB. Early diagnosis and therapy for SDB could address not only the comorbidities associated with SDB, but could also prevent or slow the progression of AMD. In turn, this would yield lower rates of vision loss, reduced comorbidities associated with vision loss, and reduced impact of AMD on the health care system and social and financial costs to society.