How Smoking May Damage Your Eyesight
If you are a smoker not only is your risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD) greater, but also the risk of existing AMD progressing faster is also higher if you smoke. This is according to an article published in Archives of Ophthalmol
If you are a smoker not only is your risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD) greater, but also the risk of existing AMD progressing faster is also higher if you smoke. This is according to an article published in Archives of Ophthalmology (JAMA/Archives).
AMD is a leading cause of vision loss among older people, the authors explain. Previous studies had already demonstrated that smoking is one of the few modifiable risk factors for AMD. Smoking leads to higher AMD risk through several pathways - smoking reduces antioxidant levels, it lowers blood flow around the eye, and it may also affect the coloration (pigments) in the retina.
Ronald Klein, M.D., M.P.H., University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, and team looked at 4,926 residents of Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, USA, during the period 1987-1988. They were aged 43-84. They were initially examined in 1988-1990 and then again every five year for the next 15 years. Photographs of the retina measured AMD status.
21% of the males and 18% of the females smoked when the study began. The researchers report that smokers ran a 47% higher risk of developing early AMD, compared to the non-smokers. Early AMD is the least severe form of AMD. It was also found that the average age smokers developed AMD was 69.2 years, compared to 72.3 years for former smokers and 74.4 years for those who had never smoked. The authors added "There were few associations of specific characteristics of smoking (e.g., intensity, pack-years smoked, duration and age at initiation and quitting) with AMD outcomes."
They concluded "In summary, while controlling for other factors, smoking appears to be related to the incidence and progression of AMD in our population. This has important health care implications, because early AMD is associated with an increase in the risk of developing late AMD and smoking behavior is modifiable."
"Further Observations on the Association Between Smoking and the Long-term Incidence and Progression of Age-related Macular Degeneration - The Beaver Dam Eye Study"
Ronald Klein, MD, MPH; Michael D. Knudtson, MS; Karen J. Cruickshanks, PhD; Barbara E. K. Klein, MD, MPH
Arch Ophthalmol. 2008;126(1):115-121.