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Smoking Harms the Precorneal Lipid Layer of Eye

Cigarette smoking associated with grade 3 and 4 dry eye changes

WEDNESDAY, June 28 (HealthDay News) -- Cigarette smoking can damage the precorneal tear film lipid layer of the eye, and smokers are more likely than non-smokers to have grade 3 or 4 dry eye changes, according to a report in the June issue of the American Journal of Ophthalmology.

Dilek Dursun Altinors, M.D., of Baskent University in Ankara, Turkey, and colleagues investigated the impact of smoking on the conjunctival mucosa by studying 60 smokers (at least a pack a day for five years) and 34 healthy non-smokers. A questionnaire was used to assess dry eye symptoms.

In smokers, the average conjunctival sensitivity was 26.2 mm and central corneal sensitivity was 37.6 mm compared with 39.9 mm and 57.8 mm, respectively, in non-smokers. The mean sum of the questionnaire score was 6.2 points in smokers versus 2.9 points in non-smokers, and mean fluorescein staining scores were 4.79 in smokers and 1.25 in non-smokers. All smokers had grade 3 or 4 dry eye changes in interferometry.

"Acute smoke exposure can result in tissue damage, as suggested by increased products of lipid peroxidation and degradation products of extracellular matrix proteins," the authors write. "These findings may explain our observations on the lipid layer of the tear film in smokers."

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