Lifestyle factors modify vision impairment risk

By Lucy Piper, Senior medwireNews Reporter
Smoking, drinking alcohol and physical activity are modifiable behaviours that influence the risk of vision impairment (VI), show findings from the Beaver Dam Eye Study.
The researchers calculated, for example, that women with early age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and an annual household income less than US$ 10,000 would have an estimated 20-year cumulative incidence of VI of 5.9% if they drank occasionally and were physically active, compared with 25.8% if they consumed no alcohol and were sedentary.
With the number of people with VI increasing as a result of an ageing population, the researchers highlight the importance of identifying risk factors that could be modified with intervention to decrease the burden.
Led by Ronald Klein (University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health, USA), the team measured the best-corrected visual acuity (BCVA) of 4926 people aged 43 to 86 years in 1988 to 1990, who were reassessed at approximately 5-yearly intervals over a period of 20 years.
The 20-year cumulative incidence of VI, based on a BCVA in the better-seeing eye of less than 20/40, was 5.4%, and the resulting loss of letters over this period was 6.6.
Both the number of letters lost and the incidence of VI increased with age. After adjusting for this as well as income and AMD severity, being a current or past smoker was associated with a significant increase in the number of letters lost.
Indeed, within each 5-year interval, current smokers lost at least 0.45 letters more than did never smokers, the researchers report in Ophthalmology.
Smoking was no longer significantly associated with the risk….
Source: News Medical