The many harmful effects of smoking are now well known, including the acceleration of cellular ageing. As far as vision is concerned, it can contribute to the advancement of age-related macular degeneration.

Risk factors for AMD

  • Older age: The risk of developing AMD increases with age. While it can affect younger people, it is more common in those over the age of 50.
  • Family history: Having a family history of AMD increases the risk of developing the disease.
  • Smoking: Smoking is a major risk factor for AMD. Smoking tobacco significantly increases the chances of developing both the dry and wet forms of the disease.
  • Diet and lifestyle: A diet poor in antioxidant nutrients, such as vitamins C and E, zinc, lutein and zeaxanthin, as well as a sedentary lifestyle, have also been associated with an increased risk of AMD.
  • Unprotected sun exposure: Failure to wear sunglasses to block ultraviolet rays increases the risk of AMD.

Types of Macular Degeneration

  1. Dry AMD (atrophic): This is the most common form of AMD. It is characterised by the gradual thinning and deterioration of the macula due to the accumulation of yellow deposits called drusen in the retina. It can lead to progressive loss of central vision.
  2. Wet AMD (exudative or neovascular): This is less common but more aggressive. It occurs when abnormal blood vessels develop in the retina. These blood vessels can leak fluid and blood, causing damage and scarring in the macula. Wet AMD can cause rapid and severe loss of central vision.

Dry AMD tends to be less aggressive and progresses more slowly, while wet AMD is faster and can cause more significant vision loss.

It is important to keep in mind that AMD can affect each person differently, and proper diagnosis and follow-up by a specialist is necessary. That is why we advise you to see an ophthalmologist to determine the type and severity of the disease in each individual case.

Why smoking contributes to AMD

As we have already mentioned, tobacco causes an acceleration of cellular ageing. This is due to the toxic substances that tobacco introduces into our organism every time we smoke a cigarette. Through the circulatory system, the toxins are dispensed through our organism, reaching such delicate parts of our body as our eyes.

Macular degeneration is caused by genetic causes, but there are risk factors such as hypertension, poor diet and smoking that can contribute to its appearance and premature development.

According to studies carried out by the World Health Organisation, this premature onset of macular degeneration can occur up to five years earlier than expected, compared to non-smokers.

Most experts agree that smoking accelerates the deterioration of our organism, in this case macular degeneration, but other visual diseases, such as cataracts, can also be brought forward.

In fact, in the case of cataracts, it is estimated that there are 40% more cases among smokers, a not insignificant figure.

Quitting smoking does not free us from these two diseases, but it will undoubtedly reduce the risk of their premature onset.