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Diabetes Care. 1991 Feb;14(2):119-26.

Association of cigarette smoking with diabetic retinopathy.

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  • 1Department of Ophthalmology, University of Wisconsin Medical School, Madison.



To determine whether cigarette smoking is associated with the incidence and progression of diabetic retinopathy.


Younger-onset diabetic subjects who had been diagnosed at less than 30 yr of age and taking insulin (n = 1210) and a random sample of older-onset diabetic subjects diagnosed at greater than or equal to 30 yr of age (n = 1780) were selected. Baseline examinations were conducted on 996 younger- and 1370 older-onset subjects. Incidence of retinopathy was based on 138 younger-onset and 154 older-onset insulin-taking subjects and 321 older-onset non-insulin-taking subjects who were free of retinopathy at baseline. Progression of retinopathy was based on 530 younger-onset and 418 older-onset insulin-taking subjects and 486 older-onset non-insulin-taking subjects with less than proliferative diabetic retinopathy at baseline.


Baseline smoking history was categorized by status (nonsmoker, ex-smoker, current smoker) and pack-years smoked while diabetic. Retinopathy was documented by stereoscopic fundus photography. In univariate analyses, the only significant association was between pack-years and progression to proliferative diabetic retinopathy in older-onset insulin-taking subjects (P less than 0.01). After controlling for known risk factors for the incidence and progression of retinopathy, pack-years smoked was borderline significant (P = 0.052) in predicting incidence of retinopathy in younger-onset subjects. Smoking was not associated with incidence in older-onset subjects or with progression or progression to proliferative diabetic retinopathy in any of the groups.


Smoking is not likely to be an important risk factor for diabetic retinopathy.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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