Smokers in the UK are warned that they are two to three times as likely as non-smokers to develop the UK’s leading cause of blindness, age related macula degeneration (AMD).
No Smoking Day 2014
This year Specsavers opticians supported No Smoking Day by educating smokers about the potential damage they are doing to their eyes and the increased risk of developing AMD.
Smokers are at significantly greater risk of losing their sight than non-smokers, yet awareness of blindness from smoking is worryingly low.
How smoking affects eyesight
Specsavers clinical spokesman Dr Nigel Best said: ‘AMD affects around 500,000 people in the UK alone and smokers are more likely to suffer from this eye condition than non-smokers. They also risk contracting it earlier.
‘When you inhale a cigarette, approximately 4,000 chemicals such as nicotine, tar, arsenic and ammonia enter your bloodstream and travel throughout your body. Some of these substances can cause blood vessels at the back of the eye to burst, damaging the macula and ultimately leading to loss of vision.’
Dr Best warned: ‘As well as the early onset of AMD, smokers also have a higher likelihood of developing cataracts. These are associated with an increased risk of falls and, if untreated, will result in visual impairment.
‘We urge smokers to use No Smoking Day as an incentive to give up and make an appointment for an eye examination. Smokers could even donate the money they save from buying cigarettes to a cancer or sight-related charity.’
For information on quitting smoking call the NHS Smoking Helpline on 0800 0224 332 to speak to an advisor or log onto Smoke Free NHS for more support materials.