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Smoking and High HDL Cholesterol increase risk of blindness

Smoking and high cholesterol are two modifiable risk factors that can affect the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD). A new study shows that AMD occurs infrequently before age 55 but increases beyond that. There exists the ability to diminish the risk factors by eliminating smoking and lowering HDL cholesterol levels. The study reveals that early AMD may actually occur in mid-life. Researchers studied participants' eyes for AMD features that in included drusen size, type, and area; increased retinal pigment; retinal pigment epithelial de-pigmentation; pure geographic atrophy and signs of exudative macular degeneration. What the study noted is that there is a low prevalence of early AMD, particularly among those younger than 55 years and a higher prevalence of early AMD in men. Early AMD was associated with those participants who smoked and had high HDL cholesterol levels. Researchers cautioned that the results were not definitive and that many factors can come into play in assessing the risk of AMD.* Elise Ervin Staff Writer

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