Smoking and Blindness

Blog Post created by Thomas3.20.2010 on Sep 25, 2011
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. "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."