Age-Related Macular Degeneration and Smoking:  The Rotterdam Study

Johannes R. Vingerling, MD, PhD; Albert Hofman, MD, PhD; Diederick E. Grobbee, MD, PhD; Paulus T. V. M. de Jong, MD, PhD, FRCOphth
Arch Ophthalmol. 1996;114(10):1193-1196. doi:10.1001/archopht.1996.01100140393005.
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Objective:  To assess the relation between cigarette smoking and age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in a population of elderly persons.

Design:  A cross-sectional, community-based study.

Setting:  City district of Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

Participants:  A total of 6174 persons 55 years and older who participated in the Rotterdam Study. In 36 persons atrophic AMD and in 65 persons neovascular AMD were diagnosed.

Main Outcome Measures:  Age-related macular degeneration was diagnosed by evaluating fundus transparencies, smoking behavior was identified by interviewing subjects, and the presence of atherosclerosis was assessed by the ankle-arm systolic blood pressure index. Relative risks and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated using multivariate logistic regression analysis.

Results:  In subjects younger than 85 years, current smokers had a 6.6-fold increased risk of neovascular AMD vs those who had never smoked (95% CI, 2.8-15.9). Former smokers had a 3.2-fold increased risk of neovascular AMD vs nonsmokers in this age group (95% CI, 1.4-7.4). These associations were not observed in subjects 85 years or older. Smoking was not associated with atrophic AMD. A strong increased risk of neovascular AMD was present in those who had smoked more than 10 pack-years (relative risk, 6.5; 95% CI, 2.9-14.8). Adjusting the results for atherosclerosis did not change the association. Persons who had quit smoking 20 or more years before the eye examination had no increased risk.

Conclusions:  The results provide evidence for a doseresponse relationship between smoking and AMD, particularly in persons with the neovascular form of the disease.


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