Response to treatment for episcleritis and scleritis is likely to be delayed by at least 4 weeks if patients are smokers, according to findings published in the September issue of Eye (Vol. 19, No. 9).
Episcleritis and scleritis are serious, sight-threatening conditions involving the inflammation of the eye and its mesodermal coverings.
Boonman and colleagues monitored a group of 103 patients and found that 90% of non-smokers responded to their first dose of medication as opposed to just 64% of smokers. Overall, response to treatment in smokers was delayed by at least 4 weeks in most cases, and as a result smokers required longer, more intensive therapy. This was irrespective of the particular form of the disease or type of medication.
Patients who had never smoked, and those who had not smoked for at least a year, were equally responsive to treatment. This indicates that the cause of the delayed response in smokers is due to interactions between the chemicals in the drugs and the chemicals in cigarettes - rather than the cumulative damage to the body caused by smoking.
Although it is not known which specific product of tobacco smoke is to blame, Boonman and colleagues propose that patients suffering from episcleritis and scleritis be prohibited from smoking during the course of their treatment.
Furthermore, as scleritis is associated with Rheumatoid Arthritis and other related disorders, the authors suggest that the same findings may also be relevant to the treatment of these conditions.
ZFHM Boonman (Department of Ophthalmology, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, The Netherlands)
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Amy Deacon (Assistant Editor - Academic Journals, Nature Publishing Group, London, UK)
Abstract available online.
(C) Eye press release.
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