SMOKING AND “WET” MACULAR DEGENERATION By Dr. Martha Jay, Ophthalmologist at Madison Medical Eye Care with offices in Mequon & Saukville, Wisconsin
Our patients who smoke know that we discuss the potential impact of this habit on vision at each and every appointment. There is even a reporting measure on this topic required for getting credit from Medicare for using electronic medical records. I also give out the “Handout of Shame” to encourage quitting.
Now yet another study has come out linking smoking to “wet” macular degeneration. Macular degeneration is an aging change that affects the delicate retinal tissue in the back of the eye. It is the leading cause of legal blindness for those over 65 years-old. There is a “dry” or mild type and also a much more severe “wet” type. The wet type results from fluid leaking forward under the retina damaging the critical central part of your vision used for reading. Those with the wet form often have to get injections in their eyes every 3-4 months in an attempt to improve their vision.
A study came out last fall in the British Journal of Ophthalmology, a respected medical journal, linking smoking and wet macular degeneration. They analyzed the data of over half a million South Korean men between the ages of 40 and 79 years-old. Apparently few women smoke in Korea so they were not included. Wet macular degeneration risk was 50% higher in smokers than those who had never smoked. Both the length of time someone smoked and the amount they smoked was significant.
You know that smoking is bad for your heart, breathing and pocketbook. Now there is yet another study liking vison loss to this habit. Your primary care physician would be thrilled to assist you in making this important lifestyle change to invest in your future medical and visual health.
Dr. Martha Jay is a Board Certified Ophthalmologist specializing in medical and surgical eye care including small incision cataract surgery and blade free LASIK. She welcomes patients of all ages into her practice and accepts most insurance plans.
For more eye care information, call 262-241-1919 or visit www.MadisonMedicalEyeCare.com.