Smokers at greater risk of sight loss

A LOCAL opticians is warning smokers that they are twice as likely as non-smokers to develop the UK’s leading cause of blindness.

Supporting National No Smoking Day on Wednesday, Specsavers in Arbroath aim to educate smokers about the potential damage they are doing to their eyes and the increased risk of developing an eye condition known as age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Smokers are at significantly greater risk of losing their sight than non-smokers, yet awareness of blindness from smoking is worryingly low. More than nine in 10 smokers in the UK are unaware of this increased risk.

Kenny Johnston, store director at Arbroath Specsavers, explained: “Age-related macular degeneration affects around 600,000 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 cause blood vessels at the back of the eye to burst, damaging the macula and ultimately leading to loss of vision.”

He went on: “As well as the early onset of AMD, smokers also have a higher likelihood of developing cataracts, a common cause of blindness and visual impairment. In addition, nicotine slowly poisons the optic nerve, causing impaired colour vision.

“We are urging smokers to use No Smoking Day as an incentive to give up and make an appointment for an eye examination.”

No Smoking Day is a UK wide charity that runs the highly successful annual health campaign helping smokers who want to quit. Now in its 28th year, the campaign’s mission is to inspire as many smokers as possible to help them quit their addiction and take control of their health and looks.

Thanks to No Smoking Day, around a million smokers will make a quit attempt on the day each year, saving lives right across the UK and helping people escape the destructive grip of tobacco once and for all. No Smoking Day is run by a small charity of the same name, supported by steering groups in each UK country. It is funded by statutory and voluntary organisations, and derives additional funding from the sale of branded materials.

No Smoking Day has helped more than 1.5 million smokers quit for good since 1984.

Call the NHS Smoking Helpline on 0800 0224 332 to speak to an advisor on quitting smoking. Alternatively log onto www.smokefree.nhs.uk for more support materials.

To book an appointment for an eye examination, please contact Specsavers in the Abbeygate Centre on 01241 432 420 or log onto www.specsavers.co.uk/arbroath