According to statistics, smokers are four times more likely to develop age-related macular degeneration (AMD) than non-smokers. Highlighting smoking’s link to eye health ahead of No Smoking Day today (9 March), the College of Optometrists is also calling for more research to be carried out into the health effects of electronic cigarettes.
“Too little is known about their consequences to health and vision to allow us to be confident that there are no risks associated with their use,” the College states.
No Smoking Day is run by the British Heart Foundation, which reports that around 100,000 people die annually from smoking-related causes.
While many people are aware of the well-documented health benefits of stopping smoking, such as a decreasing risk of cancer and reduced lung damage, the College feels that little is known about the link between smoking and blindness.
Research shows that smokers are at greater risk of developing cataracts and have an increased risk of contact lens-related corneal ulcers. Additionally, research has been found a significant association between smoking and an increased risk of retinal vein occlusions.
Clinical adviser for the College, Daniel Hardiman-McCartney, said: “We all know that smoking has a detrimental effect on health, but it’s important to highlight the lesser known effect that it can have on eyesight, one of people’s most valued senses.”
He continued: “Smoking is linked with an increased risk of blindness, but if you are a smoker thinking about quitting, there is some good news. If you stop smoking the risk of losing your sight diminishes over time so the sooner you stop, the better for your vision. I would urge any smokers who are worried about the effect it may be having on their eyes to talk to their optometrist.”
Image credit: Raskol Mihin