Smoking Raises Risk of Macular Degeneration

Smokers are four times more likely than non-smokers to develop late age-related macular degeneration

TUESDAY, Aug. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Smoking is associated with increased risk of late age-related macular degeneration, according to a report published in the August issue of the Archives of Ophthalmology.

Jie Jin Wang, Ph.D., of the University of Sydney in New South Wales, Australia, and colleagues conducted a study of 3,654 Australians aged 49 years and older, including 2,454 who were available for a total of three examinations. At each of the examinations, which took place at five-year intervals, age-related macular degeneration was recorded using retinal photographs and subjects provided information on their smoking status.

Compared with never smokers, current smokers were four times as likely (relative risk, 3.9) to develop late age-related macular degeneration, while ex-smokers were three times as likely to have geographic atrophy (RR, 3.4). The study findings indicate that among smokers, low fish consumption, a high ratio of total to high-density lipoprotein cholesterol or the lowest level of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol were associated with greater risk than any of these factors alone.

"This supports speculation that age-related macular degeneration is a condition with multiple etiologic factors, and such joint effects contributing to the pathogenesis of age-related macular degeneration could mirror the pathogenesis of cardiovascular disease," the authors conclude.

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