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Smoking Raises Risk of Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Risk increased by 47 percent in smokers

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 16 (HealthDay News) -- Smoking not only appears to increase the risk of developing early age-related macular degeneration (AMD), but also increases the likelihood of progression to late-stage disease, researchers report in an article published in the January issue of the Archives of Ophthalmology.

Ronald Klein, M.D., of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and colleagues conducted a population-based longitudinal cohort study of 4,926 individuals aged 43 to 84 years residing in Beaver Dam, Wis., in order to investigate the association between smoking and risk of AMD. Participants underwent ophthalmic examinations at baseline and every five years thereafter during the 15-year study period. The researchers graded stereoscopic color fundus photographs to determine the status of AMD.

After controlling for confounding factors, individuals who smoked at baseline had an increased odds of developing AMD (odds ratio 1.47) and progression of AMD (odds ratio 1.43), compared to those who never smoked. No relationship was noted between duration or intensity of smoking history and the incidence of early AMD.

"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," the authors conclude.

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