Prevent Macular Degeneration – Quit Smoking

The awareness of age-related macular degeneration has been raised considerably in recent years.  Advances in macular degeneration treatments, particularly the drugs Lucentis and Macugen, have given hope to many patients suffering from this eye disease.  However, many people are still at risk of this disease as they age.  Smoking and aging are the leading contributing factors that cause macular degeneration.  There is nothing that a person can do to prevent aging, but quitting smoking is an obvious choice for health reasons, including reducing the risk associated with the onset of macular degeneration.

Macular degeneration affects the elderly and the aging.  There is little that can be done to prevent aging, but research has shown that smokers are at a much higher risk to developing macular degeneration than non-smokers.  The obvious choice for preventing this eye disease is to quit smoking.

Smokers are four times more likely to develop macular degeneration than non-smokers.  (Tan JSL, et al “Smoking and the Long-term Incidence of Age-Related Macular Degeneration” Arch Ophthalmol 2007; 125: 1089-1095.)

A research study at the Harvard Medical School’s Schepens Eye Research Institute showed a correlation between the density of retinal pigment and smoking.  As smoking increased, the density of the retina decreased.  The pigment in the eye is the protection mechanism that acts as an antioxidant and blocks harmful UV rays from the retina.  If this pigment is decreased, s cientists believe that this contributes to the increased risk of developing macular degeneration.

Even if a person were to quit smoking, there is still an increased risk of developing macular degeneration.  Pas smokers are still in a higher risk category than non-smokers of developing this eye disease.

However quitting smoking has more benefits to one’s health than just lowering the risk of developing macular degeneration.