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If you smoke, you should know this: Smokers have two to four times the risk of developing Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) compared to nonsmokers. Of course, no one can say if your smoking played a role in why you now have AMD, but smoking is almost sure to affect the progression of your macular degeneration and how you'll live out your life.
The good news is, it's not too late to quit—and you can do it.
Smokers are more likely than nonsmokers to become legally blind from macular degeneration. If you continue to smoke, you increase the chances that:
Studies point to three ways that smoking may be harmful to your vision:
Anyone who's smoked and tried to quit knows how hard it can be. But people of all ages quit every day—and so can you. Be motivated by this fact: Studies show that even after a lifetime of cigarettes, quitting now may help protect your vision.
Age may be in your favor: At this point in your life, you might have tried to quit more than once and given up on the idea that you'll ever be able to do it. Don't be discouraged. It can take many tries to quit for good, and experts say you learn more each time you try. In fact, research shows that if you’ve tried to quit in the past year, you’re more likely to succeed this time.
Your cigarette doesn't define you! Even if it's a lifetime habit, smoking is not an inevitable part of who you are any more than other things you've given up doing over the years. Our lives change. Imagining yourself as a nonsmoker may be easier than the alternative: imagining yourself with limited sight.
Smoking is the No.1 preventable risk factor in losing your sight from macular degeneration.
There are many ways to quit smoking. You'll probably find that a combination of methods is the best solution for you. Whichever you use, quitting is most likely to be successful when you have a detailed plan: Set a date, prepare for it and plan activities that can help you deal with cravings.
Different quit methods work for different people. Talk to your healthcare provider to discuss which is the best choice for you.
Make quitting part of your Sight Matters Action Plan. Click here to get your personalized plan.
Smoking creates free radicals that can harm cells throughout your body, including your eyes. Studies show that along with other nutrients, antioxidants, which fight free radicals, can help people with dry AMD reduce their risk of progression. That’s why many doctors suggest that smokers with dry AMD take an antioxidant-rich vitamin based on the AREDS2 study. The AREDS2 recommended formula doesn’t contain beta carotene, which has been linked to lung cancer in people who smoke.
Click here to learn more about AREDS eye vitamins.