Glaucoma is one of the most common causes of irreversible blindness, globally. Findings from the Blue Mountain Eye Study suggest a moderate positive association between smoking and increased IOP (a significant risk factor for glaucoma). The previous two reviews investigating the association between smoking and primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG) show inconsistent findings and do not include recent studies investigating the dose–response effect of smoking. The current study aims to conduct an up-to-date, comprehensive evaluation of the existing literature. Identification of relevant existing literature was performed by an online search in MEDLINE for studies published from 1st January 1946 to 5th February 2015. The MESH headings (keywords) included “open-angle glaucoma” and “cigarette” or “smoking” or “tobacco”. Two independent reviewers assessed the eligibility of each report based on predefined inclusion criteria. Odds ratios and 95 % confidence intervals (95 % CIs) were obtained from studies, for the change in risk of glaucoma due to both past and current smoking. Of the 26 abstracts reviewed, 17 papers were included in the final analysis. Nine of these were case–control studies, five cohort studies and three cross-sectional in design. Six of the case–control studies found a positive association between smoking and POAG, unlike the remaining studies. However, two relatively recent, large studies (including one prospective cohort study) investigating the effect of smoking dose have found a significant increase in risk of POAG in very heavy smokers. There is limited evidence for a causal association between tobacco smoking and POAG. The evidence for a link between current smoking and POAG appears stronger than that of past smoking, but recent studies suggest that heavy smoking may increase the risk of POAG. Future studies must further investigate the possible positive association between heavy smoking and POAG by stratifying participants by pack years and age.
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