Habitual consumption of dairy products has been shown to play an important role in the prevention of several chronic diseases. We aimed to prospectively assess the relationship between the change in dairy product consumption (both regular fat and low/reduced fat) and the 15-year incidence of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). In the Blue Mountains Eye Study, 2037 participants aged 49 years or above at baseline were re-examined at follow-up in 1997–9, 2002–4 and/or 2007–9. AMD was assessed from retinal photographs. Dietary data were collected using a semi-quantitative FFQ, and servings of dairy product consumption calculated. Over the 15-year follow-up, there were 352, 268 and eighty-four incident cases of any, early and late AMD, respectively. After adjusting for age, sex, current smoking, white cell count and fish consumption, a significant linear trend (P for trend = 0·003) was observed with decreasing consumption of total dairy foods and the 15-year incidence of late AMD, comparing the lowest v. highest quintile of intake (OR 2·80, 95 % CI 1·21, 3·04). Over the 15 years, decreased consumption of reduced-fat dairy foods was associated with an increased risk of incident late AMD, comparing the lowest to highest quintile of intake (OR 3·10, 95 % CI 1·18, 8·14, P for trend = 0·04). Decreasing total dietary Ca intake over the 15 years was also associated with an increased risk of developing incident late AMD (multivariable-adjusted P for trend = 0·03). A lower consumption of dairy products (regular and low fat) and Ca was independently associated with a higher risk of developing incident late AMD in the long term. Additional cohort studies are needed to confirm these findings.