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Risk Factor For Late Age Macular Degeneration

Smoking and Macular Degeneration A recent article highlighted in the Archives of Ophthalmology reveals that smokers are more at risk than non-smokers for developing macular degeneration as they age. Age-related macular degeneration is a chronic and progressive disease affecting the eyes, which often leads to visual impairment or blindness.

What is Macular Degeneration?
Macular degeneration is a progressive or chronic disease that worsens with time. It causes tissue damage within the retina, often resulting in partial vision loss or blindness within the center of the retina. Some people are able to retain peripheral vision, while others find they cannot see clearly at all.

Age-related macular degeneration refers to macular degeneration that occurs with time; a recent article highlighted the importance of good health in preventing this disease. According to researchers at the University of Sydney and West mead Hospital, smokers increase their risk of age-related macular degeneration much more so than their healthier peers, by as much as 40 percent in some cases.

People with macular degeneration that smoke may also be more at risk for a rapid increase in the progression of their disease, in part because the body is deprived of oxygen the tissues in the retina and eye need to see clearly. Just as nicotine and tar coat the lungs, causing them to turn black in some cases, so too do nicotine and tar contribute to a "coat" of sorts of the eye, or tissue damage that leads to loss of vision, much earlier than one would normally expect of someone that didn't smoke.

Smoking is also a cause for other health problems as people age. For example, people that smoke are more at risk for lung cancer and cardiovascular disease. Women that smoke as they age are more likely to develop breast or other cancers of the reproductive system. Smoking is a big deal, and it doesn't really matter whether you smoke three cigarettes a day or a pack.

How to Quit Smoking
There is no one right or wrong way to quit smoking. Some people go "cold turkey" and others prefer to "wean" from smoking by reducing the overall quantity of cigarettes they smoke each day. Of all the addictions people can have, smoking is often cited as among the worst. The powerful pull of nicotine is so strong it often entices people that have stopped smoking for 10 or more years to start smoking again.

While this may sound ominous, there is hope. There are many support groups available for people trying to stop smoking, as many as there are groups to help people with other substance abuse problems. Talk with your health care provider or your eye doctor about your intention to quit smoking.

They may be able to provide you with information about nicotine patches or prescription medication that may help you stop smoking and curb cravings, which is often the reason why people relapse. A drug called Zyban, which is related to the prescription medication Wellbutrin, used for depression, may sometimes help people with an addiction to nicotine.

These medications may not be suitable for your condition however. Whatever your preference, make the choice to stop smoking. Macular degeneration is a serious disease, one that reduces the quality of life for those that develop it later in their life.

To improve your health today, all you have to do is start making small changes, like eating healthy. You can also increase your intake of essential fatty acids and talk with a healthcare provider or eye doctor as soon as you can so you find the support you need to quit smoking. The sooner you quit the better!

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