Quitting smoking will save you moneyafter all, youre not buying cartons of cigarettes anymore. But, a new study claims that its also cost-effective to quit smoking because it lowers the risk for age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Researchers examined results of previous studies to predict decline of AMD risk after quitting. They used this data to create a computer model that simulated the incidence of AMD in a hypothetical sample of 1,000 former smokers. Results demonstrated that, if 1,000 smokers quit, there would be 48 fewer cases of AMD and 12 fewer cases of blindness. Total quality-adjusted life years increased by 1,600, and AMD-related costs would decrease by $2.5 million (including caregiver costs). If the quitter used a program that cost up to $1,400 to help him or her quit, it was still cost-effective when considering caregiver compensation, according to the study.

These types of studies are needed in order to help people and policymakers understand the financial burden of continued tobacco use, in just one single tobacco-related complication, says Daniel Bintz, O.D., of Elk City, Okla.

How can you present this information to patients? Using the Ask, Advise, Refer technique (www.askadviserefer.org) when discussing smoking cessation is a good start, says Dr. Bintz. Also, the American Optometric Associations flyer Smoke Gets in Your Eyes is easy to hand out.

Hurley SF, Matthews JP, Guymer RH. Cost-effectiveness of smoking cessation to prevent age-related macular degeneration. Cost Eff Resour Alloc 2008 Sep 11;6(1):18.

Vol. No: 145:10Issue: 10/15/2008