The smoke clears

A new study looks at the unanticipated relationship between smoking and epiretinal membranes


“Unexpected” is how the researchers describe the results of their new study, which found that smoking decreases a person’s risk of developing an epiretinal membrane.

The research, published in the journal Scientific Reports, combined the data of eight studies and the nearly 47,000 participants in them.

The authors, based in the Ningbo Yinzhou People’s Hospital and Zhejiang University in China, explained that this combined data indicated that there is a significant, yet “unexpected protective association between smoking and epiretinal membrane.”

The authors said that, as yet, there was no adequate explanation as to why smoking may be beneficial for the condition of epiretinal membrane, in contrast to the habit’s many other damaging effects within the eye.

They wrote in the paper that: “No consensus exists and further evidence is needed.”

The authors concluded: “Further high-quality research that specifically addresses daily cigarette consumption and smoking duration is warranted to confirm our findings and provide a possible explanation for this association.”