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N Z Med J. 2001 Oct 26;114(1142):471-4.

Smoke gets in your eyes: smoking and visual impairment in New Zealand.

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  • 1Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast, Northern Ireland.



To estimate the burden of visual impairment attributable to smoking in New Zealand.


Review of Medline-indexed literature on the relationship between smoking and eye disease and use of relevant New Zealand morbidity and smoking prevalence data.


The international literature indicates there is strong evidence that smoking is a major cause of eye disease and blindness--particularly for cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Using the most relevant international risk estimates, we estimated that 1335 people who are registered blind in New Zealand have AMD attributable to current and past smoking (26.8% of all AMD cases in the 55 years plus age-group). It was also estimated that 31 of the registered cases of visual impairment due to cataract and 396 hospitalisations for cataract surgery per year, are attributable to smoking. While subject to various methodological limitations, these estimates are probably under-estimates of the true burden of eye disease attributable to smoking.


Smoking is a major cause of untreatable visual impairment and also a significant reason for cataract surgery in New Zealand. There is a need for more intensive tobacco control activities in New Zealand.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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