Stop Smoking, Maintain Vision?

Recent study finds smoking, cholesterol levels may contribute to age-related macular degeneration

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL or "good" cholesterol) and smoking appear to contribute to early-stage age-related macular degeneration (AMD), according to a recent study.

Ronald Klein, M.D., of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and a team of researchers looked at 2,810 study participants aged 21 to 84 and determined various characteristics of AMD, including the presence and severity of drusen (deposits in the retina, an early indicator of the disease). Some 3.4 percent of participants were found to have early AMD.

Being male, smoking heavily over a long period of time and/or being hearing impaired appeared to increase risk of early AMD, while higher levels of HDL cholesterol was tied to lower risk.

Drusen presented in the macula (the area of the retina responsible for sharp vision) in 63.3 percent of participants, the chances of which increased with age. Women and men had about the same number of drusen in consideration of age.

Interestingly researchers pinpointed some factors that did not appear to be associated with early AMD, including blood pressure, body mass index, physical activity level, history of heavy drinking, white blood cell count or total cholesterol level.

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Review Date: 
January 7, 2011
Last Updated:
January 10, 2011