New research shows connection between the frequency of cigarette smoking and the presence and severity of PVR

Vancouver, BC
— While cigarette smokers are known to have higher rates of proliferative vitreoretinopathy (PVR) – a fibrotic disease process that develops as a complication after retinal detachment – the biologic triggers that cause these higher rates have remained elusive. One study to be presented this week at 2019 Annual Meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) in Vancouver, British Columbia (Sunday, April 28 to Thursday, May 2), found that cigarette smoking induces fibrosis in retinal pigment epithelial cells, a key aspect of PVR pathogenesis, paving the way for future studies on the mechanisms behind cigarette smoke and PVR.

Mohammad Bawany and his team at the University of Rochester Medical Center’s Flaum Eye Institute, found that exposure to cigarette smoke in culture resulted in a 2-fold increase in retinal pigment epithelial cells becoming fibrotic cells, compared to cells grown in smoke-free culture conditions. These results reveal a major connection between cigarette smoking and the increased risk of PVR development after retinal detachment.

According to Bawany, these findings will help spark more studies that may lead to future PVR treatments. “Our study found that in cell culture, cigarette smoke exposure causes retinal pigment epithelial cells, which are involved in the PVR process, to undergo fibrosis, providing insight into the mechanism of increased rates of PVR among cigarette smokers. Better understanding of this mechanism will potentially help identify new targets for pharmacologic agents that target PVR, a disease process that currently has no treatments," Bawany said.

Abstract title: Cigarette smoke promotes epithelial-mesenchymal transition in retinal pigment epithelial cells
Presentation start/end time: Thursday, May 2, 8 - 9:45am
Location: West Exhibition Hall
Presentation Number: A0261


The Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) is the largest eye and vision research organization in the world. Members include nearly 12,000 eye and vision researchers from over 75 countries. ARVO advances research worldwide into understanding the visual system and preventing, treating and curing its disorders. Learn more at
The 2019 ARVO Annual Meeting will take place in Vancouver, BC from April 28 – May 2. The Meeting is the premiere gathering of nearly 12,000 eye and vision researchers from around the world. During the Meeting, more than 6,600 abstracts will be presented on the latest basic and translational research in eye and vision science.

All abstracts accepted for presentation at the ARVO Annual Meeting represent previously unpublished data and conclusions. This research may be proprietary or may have been submitted for journal publication. Embargo policy: Journalists must seek approval from the presenter(s) before reporting data from paper or poster presentations. Press releases or stories on information presented at the ARVO Annual Meeting may not be released or published until the conclusion of the presentation.

Media contact:
Julene Joy