International Study Shows Smoking is Major Risk Factor for Macular Degeneration

Apr 02, 2001, 01:00 ET from American Academy of Ophthalmology

    SAN FRANCISCO, April 2 /PRNewswire/ -- A study pooling results from
 several population-based eye disease studies conducted on three continents
 shows that tobacco smoking is the principal known preventable risk factor
 associated with age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The study appears in
 the April 2001 issue of Ophthalmology, the clinical journal of the American
 Academy of Ophthalmology, the Eye M.D. Association.
     (Photo:  http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20000323/SFTHFNS1 )
     The study, analyzing combined data from studies conducted in Beaver Dam,
 Wisconsin, Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and the Blue Mountains area, west of
 Sydney, Australia, shows that apart from age, tobacco smoking is the only risk
 factor consistently associated with any form of AMD in each study location and
 overall.
     The two forms of AMD are geographic atrophy (or dry AMD), and neovascular
 (or wet AMD). In dry AMD, the retina thins out gradually. There is no known
 cure for this type. In wet AMD, new blood vessels in the retina grow and leak
 blood or fluid, damaging the macula, the part of the retina responsible for
 central, focused vision. The two treatments currently available for this type
 of AMD are laser photocoagulation and  photodynamic therapy, both of which can
 stabilize the disease if caught early enough. Compared with people who never
 smoked, ex-smokers and current smokers were more likely to have AMD.  Current
 smokers were more likely to have wet AMD than dry AMD.
     Academy spokesperson Paul Sternberg, Jr., M.D., said, "This study
 corroborates and reinforces previous studies that have suggested the link
 between tobacco smoking and the development of macular degeneration. The
 Academy supports the authors' call for increased health advocacy efforts to
 reduce the smoking rate, including among the elderly."
     Interestingly, even though both the Beaver Dam and Blue Mountains eye
 studies showed the prevalence of wet AMD to be twice that of dry AMD among the
 study participants (ages 55 to 86), the ratio was smaller in the Rotterdam
 study. The authors discuss several possible explanations for this difference
 -- such as differences in retinal photographic technique, patient selection,
 health care systems, cultural attitudes about health, exposure to sunlight,
 and environmental risk factors. However, they rule these out as likely
 explanations, suggesting that there may be important genetic differences and
 gene-environment interactions among the three communities, and they call for
 more research to identify genes that may predispose people to developing AMD.
 For more information on AMD, visit the Academy's partner Web site,
 www.medem.com.
     The American Academy of Ophthalmology is the world's largest association
 of Eye M.D.s -- eye physicians and surgeons -- with more than 27,000 members.
 Information on the Academy is available on the Academy's Web site,
 http://www.aao.org .
 
 

SOURCE American Academy of Ophthalmology
    SAN FRANCISCO, April 2 /PRNewswire/ -- A study pooling results from
 several population-based eye disease studies conducted on three continents
 shows that tobacco smoking is the principal known preventable risk factor
 associated with age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The study appears in
 the April 2001 issue of Ophthalmology, the clinical journal of the American
 Academy of Ophthalmology, the Eye M.D. Association.
     (Photo:  http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20000323/SFTHFNS1 )
     The study, analyzing combined data from studies conducted in Beaver Dam,
 Wisconsin, Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and the Blue Mountains area, west of
 Sydney, Australia, shows that apart from age, tobacco smoking is the only risk
 factor consistently associated with any form of AMD in each study location and
 overall.
     The two forms of AMD are geographic atrophy (or dry AMD), and neovascular
 (or wet AMD). In dry AMD, the retina thins out gradually. There is no known
 cure for this type. In wet AMD, new blood vessels in the retina grow and leak
 blood or fluid, damaging the macula, the part of the retina responsible for
 central, focused vision. The two treatments currently available for this type
 of AMD are laser photocoagulation and  photodynamic therapy, both of which can
 stabilize the disease if caught early enough. Compared with people who never
 smoked, ex-smokers and current smokers were more likely to have AMD.  Current
 smokers were more likely to have wet AMD than dry AMD.
     Academy spokesperson Paul Sternberg, Jr., M.D., said, "This study
 corroborates and reinforces previous studies that have suggested the link
 between tobacco smoking and the development of macular degeneration. The
 Academy supports the authors' call for increased health advocacy efforts to
 reduce the smoking rate, including among the elderly."
     Interestingly, even though both the Beaver Dam and Blue Mountains eye
 studies showed the prevalence of wet AMD to be twice that of dry AMD among the
 study participants (ages 55 to 86), the ratio was smaller in the Rotterdam
 study. The authors discuss several possible explanations for this difference
 -- such as differences in retinal photographic technique, patient selection,
 health care systems, cultural attitudes about health, exposure to sunlight,
 and environmental risk factors. However, they rule these out as likely
 explanations, suggesting that there may be important genetic differences and
 gene-environment interactions among the three communities, and they call for
 more research to identify genes that may predispose people to developing AMD.
 For more information on AMD, visit the Academy's partner Web site,
 www.medem.com.
     The American Academy of Ophthalmology is the world's largest association
 of Eye M.D.s -- eye physicians and surgeons -- with more than 27,000 members.
 Information on the Academy is available on the Academy's Web site,
 http://www.aao.org .
 
 SOURCE  American Academy of Ophthalmology