Smoking & Age-Related Macular Degeneration: What Patients Need to Know
Did you know?: Research suggests that the development of age-related macular degeneration is four times more likely in smokers than non-smokers. Smoking may also disrupt laser therapies’ effectiveness in AMD treatment.
For vision health, you cannot dispute the dangers of smoking tobacco, particularly for age-related macular degeneration (AMD). This all-too-common incurable condition degrades the macula, the retinal center, slowly stealing your precious central vision. Smoking is the main controllable risk factor, making it vital for patients to reduce, or even better, avoid smoking in any form.
The Impact of Smoking on AMD Patients
AMD is the United States’ primary cause of blindness and vision impairment among those 60 years and older. With no cure available, preventive measures may slow patients’ encroaching blindness. Among controllable AMD risk factors, smoking is number one. Smoking boosts AMD development, and heavier smoking levels are linked with higher risks. Compared to non-smokers, smokers may also develop AMD up to 10 years earlier, with faster progression, and reduced treatment responsiveness.
Smoking, Antioxidants, and AMD
Research shows that smoking may lower antioxidant effectiveness, contributing to retinal cell destruction or even cell death. Powerful compounds called antioxidants are nutrients that protect the body, including the retina, from the effects of unstable molecules known as free radicals. Free radicals can cause oxidative and cellular damage as well as heightened inflammation. They are closely linked with chronic illnesses, like cancer.
The Specific Effects Smoking Has on the Eye
Over 4,500 extremely toxic chemicals, like formaldehyde, are found in tobacco smoke, which are capable of causing damage to the retina and macula. The tar in cigarette smoke may exacerbate the formation of drusen, which are fatty, yellowish deposits that accumulate under the retina and have a distinct correlation with AMD severity. Smoking can also reduce oxygen levels in the choroid, a spongy pigmented layer of blood vessels and connective tissue that nourishes the retina and absorbs toxic light within the eye. Lastly, smoking may contribute to complications with the complement cascade, an immunity system component thought to be connected to the development of geographic atrophy.
The Value of Smoking Cessation for AMD
Deciding to quit smoking can be a game-changer for individuals dealing with AMD. Quitting as soon as possible is strongly encouraged by medical experts, as the benefits are substantial and extend beyond vision. Smoking cessation not only holds the potential to slow down the progression of AMD but also potentially contributes to preserving your remaining vision. Some individuals who quit smoking notice positive changes in their vision, especially if AMD affects only one eye. By choosing to quit, you are taking proactive steps toward safeguarding your eye health and overall well-being.
Protect Yourself Against AMD – Quit Smoking
There are a million reasons to quit smoking and your vision is one of the biggest, especially if you have been diagnosed with AMD or are at risk for developing it. The harmful effects of tobacco on AMD patients, from development risks to treatment success, highlight the critical role of smoking cessation in eye health.
For comprehensive AMD examinations and personalized guidance on quitting smoking, take the proactive step of reaching out to Palmetto Retina Center today. With retina center locations throughout Lexington County and Pee Dee in South Carolina, our dedicated specialists are ready to support you on your journey to better eye health. Don't wait – contact Palmetto Retina Center today and prioritize the well-being of your vision.