Scientists have found an association between fungicide use and retinal degeneration in the wives of farmers who are pesticide applicators. Researchers had already found an association with retinal degeneration among the farmers themselves in the Agricultural Health Study, a large study of farm families from Iowa and North Carolina.
Researchers reviewed data from questionnaires given to 31,173 women from 1993 to 1997 to determine whether wives of these farmer pesticide applicators were at increased risk of retinal degeneration. This information was evaluation to determine 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.
Their findings suggest that exposure to some fungicides and other pesticides may increase the risk of retinal degeneration; specific fungicides that appeared to drive this association were maneb or mancozeb and ziram.
Study authors noted that although these findings for retinal degeneration are based solely on self-reported disease, they are consistent with those reported for farmer pesticide applicators.
SOURCE: Retinal Degeneration and Other Eye Disorders in Wives of Farmer Pesticide Applicators Enrolled in the Agricultural Health Study, Kirrane, et al, American Journal of Epidemiology 2005 161(11):1020-1029; doi:10.1093/aje/kwi140