According to new research published in JAMA Ophthalmology, a lifetime of smoking and alcohol intake is associated with an increased risk of advanced AMD. The study from the University College London assessed whether smoking, alcohol consumption, blood pressure, body mass index, and glycemic traits were associated with an increased risk of age-related macular degeneration.
The study included data from 16,144 individuals with age-related macular degeneration and 17,832 controls.
Researchers found an association between genetically predicted alcohol consumption and a higher risk of geographic atrophy. A higher risk of advanced AMD was also found in those with genetically predicted smoking initiation.
The authors concluded, “To reduce the prevalence of advanced AMD in aging populations, public health campaigns and programs to support smoking abstention, smoking succession, and reduced alcohol intake should incorporate the evidence that these activities can lead to blindness.”
What Is Age-Related Macular Degeneration?
Age-related macular degeneration is an eye disease that can cause blurred central vision. It is caused by aging to the macula – the part of the eye that controls sharp, straight-ahead vision.
It is a common condition and is a leading cause of vision loss for older adults. Although it doesn’t always lead to complete blindness, losing central vision can make it much harder for those with the disease to see faces, read, drive, or do close-up work such as cooking or fixing things around the house.
Age-related macular degeneration can happen very slowly in some people, while it can be faster in others. Those who have early AMD may not even notice poor vision for a long time.
This is why studies such as this are so important to find lifestyle behaviors that can increase the risk for the disease. Eye health is extremely important, and more studies are needed to find possible risk factors for disease.