Smoking is a Risk Factor for Macular Disease

Drusen are yellow, lipid deposits in the retina.    These usually appear in age related macular degeneration, but sometimes they appear in persons must younger.    In the case below, a young male in his 30’s with 20/25 visual acuity in both eyes.  It is important to closely monitor this condition for bleeding in the choroid (which is the vascular layer of the retina).    There is a strong link between smoking and macular disease!

Smokers are up to four times more likely than non-smokers to develop age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and smokers with a genetic predisposition to AMD are eight times more likely to get the condition. Some research suggests people with certain genes can be 20 times more likely to get macular degeneration if they smoke. Our age and our genes have a big effect on whether or not we develop AMD but we can’t change those. We can change our smoking habits. Smoking is the biggest ‘modifiable’ risk factor for AMD – by stopping smoking you will reduce your chance of getting AMD and of your AMD progressing.

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