Macular Degeneration

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Evaluation of patients' experiences with conventional and alternative therapies at dry and wet macular degeneration. Includes success, risks, cost, addresses...

Updated: April 2012

Macular Degeneration & Smoking

Is smoking dangerous for people suffering from a macular degeneration?

This key question for people suffering of macular degeneration or generally for endangered older people we wanted to get to the bottom to. But before we have a closer look at the relation between macular degeneration and smoking here first a few facts researched in literature and on the internet upon which medicals and experts agree:

  • Every year about 145 billion cigarettes are smoked
  • Approx. 25 percent of all adults smoke regularly
  • Between 110,000 and 140,000 people each year become victims of their tobacco
  • About 1 billion people smoke worldwide
  • About every 10-15 seconds a person dies from the effects of smoking.
  • About 500 million people who now live probably will die from smoking. They are about 8% of the world's population.
  • Smoking kills more people a year than road accidents, fires, alcohol, cocaine, heroin, AIDS, murder and suicide combined!
  • Smoking is killing more people than any other disease.

Can smoking damage the eyes?

Despite numerous hints of all cigarette packets there are 20 million people alone in Germany who smoke. How many suffer from those of a macular degeneration is unknown. The list of the in the meantime proved diseases is long - but what about the eyes?
  • "Nicotine is bad for the eyes, and indeed very dangerous," says Professor Dr. Bernd Bertram, vice chairman of the Professional Association of Ophthalmologists (BVA).
  • Professor Horst Helbig, director of the university eye clinic Regensburg says: "Smoking furthers damaging the eyes and starts the aging process quicker than if you are a non-smoker."
In the middle of 2010 Focus Online reported about the connection of smoking and macular degeneration. They say smokers are especially endangered because of the fact that this risk group generally has an unfavourable vitamin and nutrient household and the consummation of cigarettes moreover free more free oxygen radicals which could attack the tissue in the long run. It also says oculists would encourage their patients at the first signs of illness to an immediate "smoking stop". Study results show, so they say further, that vitamin A,C, E, copper and zinc could reduce the risk to develop a late state of the illness by 25 percent.

Why does smoking damage the eyes?

We researched the relations for you:

Professor Carl Erb, head of the department for eye diseases of the Schlossparkklinik Charlottenburg, Berlin, explains that smoking causes circulatory disorder of the vessels which leads to a shortage of oxygen supply for the eyes which also leads to dying cells in the retina. The in the smoke contained poisons thicken the vessels’ walls and the blood flow towards the retina is hindered. This often has a catastrophic result for the vision because this could cause a macular degeneration or also a cataract.

Also, metabolic products could not be dissipated in a normal extent so that the junk in the eye gather up in the so called geodes. This process, too, could further the development of a macular degeneration. Additionally this leads to almost 3,400 people dying worldwide every day on the consequences of their consuming tobacco.

Can I become blind through smoking?

Blind through cigarettes? This may sound terrifying but it is indeed possible. We found one doctor who warns especially clearly. The head of the eye clinic at Charlottenburg, Professor Carl Erb explains, that there was the opinion that the by smoking changed vessel process is responsible for man eye diseases. Even a sudden blindness due to a sudden closing up of retina vessels could happen as often as bleedings at the vision nerve head due to a heightened intraocular pressure. Especially strong smokers have to take into account massive vision loss or even blindness through a poisoning of the visionary nerve.
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If smoking is thus dangerous how about macular degeneration?

Our research results clearly show that smoking is an earnest danger for the human eye. What do researches say in relation to macular degeneration?
  • Prof. Dr. Johann Roider of the University Eye Hospital Kiel says, "Age-related macular degeneration is fate. The only way to avoid it is not to smoke."
  • The representative of the German Ophthalmological Society (DOG), Prof. Frank Wood goes a step further and says: "Smoking is the only proven controllable risk factor for age-related macular degeneration or AMD, an eye disease which the World Health Organisation as the leading cause of recognition of blindness in developed countries have. "
  • The Asklepios Clinic North in Heidelberg said on your website: "The most important risk factor for macular degeneration (AMD) is the smoking. With more than 25 cigarettes per day increases the risk of developing the wet form of macular degeneration (AMD) by a factor of two , 5 "
  • The University of Cambridge has commissioned a study with 435 affected by macular degeneration carried out, reports the British Journal of Ophthalmology. Those who have over 40 years of time consumed at least one packet daily, the study shows that, compared to abstainers an almost threefold risk of developing the degenerative disease of the retina.

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What do studies say on the relation between smoking and macular degeneration?

United Kingdom:
The British Medical Journal published a study by the University of Manchester on the relationship between macular degeneration and smoking. Accordingly, in Britain one in five is caused by macular degeneration tobacco consumption. This means that smoking is currently responsible for about 54,000 in the UK macular degeneration sufferers over 69 years. Of these, the "British Medical Journal are" nearly 18,000 blind.

It said there was evidence that the progression of the disease slows down when the macular degeneration-affected population would stop smoking

Source: "British Medical Journal", Vol. 328, S. 537

In Australia in 2500 participants of a study of 10 years by a team from the University of Sydney were accompanied. The subjects were all at least 49 years old and had to answer among other questions about dietary habits and cigarette consumption. After five and ten years on the condition of the retinal images were taken of participants to the condition of the macula can be documented and as indications of potential macular degeneration explore.

The result: Smoking carried a fourfold higher risk of macular degeneration as a Non smoking. At least three times as high was the risk for former smokers.

Source: University of Sydney/ "Blue Mountains Eye"-Studie / "Jama" Bd.125, S.1089
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But I have not smoked myself. Is passive smoking also a problem for macular degeneration?

The German Cancer Research Center indicates in a study that would die each year more than 3300 Non smoking by passive co-smoking. But what is with macular degeneration? The study by Cambridge University also shows who had been living at least five years with a smoking show, in the current study a nearly twofold risk of age-related macular degeneration. The risk of developing macular degeneration, it says there is already a short time exposure to tobacco smoke is greatly increased.
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Is it safe to say that smoking affects my macular degeneration?

The AMD Alliance report says: "The single most preventable risk factor that can be clearly seen as scientifically proven, is smoking. A 1996 published study showed a clear link between smoking and AMD." In addition, the report further said: "In addition, an overview of the studies shows on the relationship between smoking and age-related macular degeneration, that the scientific evidence clearly justifies the statement that smoking causes age-related macular degeneration."
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What happens if I stopped smoking immediately?

Stopping smoking is certainly a good decision. But the earlier you decide for the better for your eyes and your related macular degeneration. This is confirmed by the AMD Alliance UK, which has come to the conclusion: Even if you immediately stop smoking, the risk could be susceptible to macular degeneration reduced only very slowly. Ten years had to do without cigarettes, before falling to the risk to begin. But after 20 years "Non smoking," the risk of macular degeneration has reached to suffer the "normal level".
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So what should I do?

  • The pharmaceutical company Novartis recommends clearly with existing macular degeneration, one should stop smoking.
  • CE Uhlig, MD from the University Hospital Münster is still an important note: "Because smokers who took beta-carotene as a food itself, increasingly suffering from lung cancer, smokers are discouraged from taking beta-carotene" (caution: The vitamin ß-carotene is often high in vitamin supplements contain doses that are recommended in macular degeneration!)
  • The AMD Alliance Report states that: "In short, there is now no longer any doubt that smoking is the most important preventable risk factor for AMD."

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Our result - Recommendation

Since the first October 2003, all EU Member States and Switzerland has undertaken to include prominent warnings be printed on every cigarette pack. For a long time there has been the warning requirement "Smoking causes blindness" on cigarette packs. Nevertheless, every year die worldwide about 5 million people from the consequences of smoking according to the WHO, about 5 million Experts and studies see clear evidence of a link between smoking and passive smoking on the development and progression of macular degeneration.

In conclusion we can give with regards to our research, only one recommendation:
If you are a smoker, they hear it as soon as possible to avoid them, or passive smoking immediately. Thus you give yourself the best chance that your body can regenerate something and the consequences of smoking their macular degeneration does not aggravate further and further not only can contribute to macular degeneration.

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