Smokers appear to have greater risk and faster progression of AMD

January 16, 2008

Smokers have an increased long-term risk and greater progression of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Beaver Dam, WI-Smokers have an increased long-term risk and greater progression of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), according to a study in the January issue of Archives of Ophthalmology.

Smoking had already been identified as one of the risk factors for AMD, according to the study. Smoking may contribute to AMD by reducing antioxidant levels, decreasing blood flow around the eye, or affecting the pigments in the retina.

Ronald Klein, MD, MPH, and colleagues at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, studied 4,926 residents of Beaver Dam, WI, who were ages 43 to 84 years in 1987 to 1988. They were initially examined in 1988 to 1990 and were re-examined every 5 years for the next 15 years.

At the beginning of the study, 21% of the men and 18% of the women in the study were smokers. Smokers had a 47% increase in their odds of developing early AMD. Smokers also developed AMD at a younger age (69.2 years) than former smokers (72.3 years) and those who had never smoked (74.4 years).