Smoking increases AMD risk

October 1, 2005

"Smoking increases your risk of developing blindness" is the shocking message being transmitted across the UK in a bid to raise awareness.

Only 7% of adults in the UK are aware that age-related macular degeneration (AMD) affects the eyes, according to a survey of 1,023 adults by the Royal National Institute of the Blind (RNIB) and AMD Alliance UK. Further, the report revealed that 7 out of 10 smokers would stop smoking permanently or cut down on smoking if they knew it could harm their eyesight.

The message from this survey is clear; the majority of adults do not know what AMD is, let alone that smoking could increase their chances of developing AMD, which causes loss of vision.

In a literature review, published in the September issue of Eye, a total of 13 out of 17 studies (cross-sectional, prospective cohort, and case-control studies) found a statistically significant association between smoking and AMD with increased risk of AMD of two- to threefold in current smokers compared with non-smokers. The authors concluded that despite this evidence, there is still a lack of awareness about the risks of developing AMD from smoking among both healthcare professionals and the general public.

Further, a study conducted by S.P. Kelly and colleagues amongst patients at the Royal Bolton Hospital, UK, confirmed the lack of awareness of the link between smoking and eye disease. Of the 358 respondents, a mere 9.5% believed a link exists between smoking and blindness, however, around 50% of respondents did state that they would definitely or probably give up smoking if they developed signs of blindness. The full details of this survey are available in the September issue of Eye.

The RNIB and AMD Alliance UK are calling for a nationwide initiative to raise awareness of this condition and its links with smoking. Both groups want to see the introduction of specific warnings on cigarette packets and insist the UK Government funds a major public awareness campaign. Further, the RNIB is joining the British Medical Association and Royal College of Ophthalmologists in promoting a full ban of smoking in public places.

Following on from these revelations, FODO (the Federation of Ophthalmic & Dispensing Opticians) in the UK reiterated the importance of regular eye checks, which could catch onset of disease early and reaffirmed free sight tests were available to the over-60s.

AMD Alliance UK is the UK branch of AMD Alliance International, a global non-profit coalition of 55 organizations in 21 countries working to raise awareness of AMD.

The RNIB is a leading UK charity that offers information, support and advice to people with sight problems.

Excimer lasers can't be separated

There is no difference in visual acuity or refractive outcomes between the Technolas 217A (Bausch & Lomb) and the VISX S3 (AMO), according to a study published in the August issue of the American Journal of Ophthalmology.

Cynthia Roberts and colleagues of the Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, USA, compared optical quality, visual function, corneal shape, ocular wavefront aberrations, and patient-reported symptoms and satisfaction after laser in situ keratomileusis (LASIK) with the two excimer lasers.

Patients with low to moderate myopia in both eyes were treated with both lasers, using a different laser for each eye, in a prospective randomized trial.

Six months post-surgery, the investigators found the difference between the two treatment groups, under each of the conditions measured, was negligible, with patient-reported symptoms, satisfaction and preferences showing no significant differences.