A recent survey by the Macular Society reports that 53% of people are unaware that smoking can cause blindness.
The national charity performed the survey ahead of Macular Week at the end of the month (26 June –2 July), which aims to raise public awareness about age-related macular degeneration (AMD) – the largest cause of sight loss in the UK.
The Macular Society highlights smoking as the biggest “modifiable” risk factor in the development of AMD and reports that smokers are four times more likely to develop the condition when compared to non-smokers.
During Macular Week the charity will focus on raising awareness about the harmful effects that smoking can have on the eyes, stressing that this includes passive smoking.
Explaining the cause and affect, the charity detailed that tobacco smoke contains toxic chemicals that are “transported to the delicate tissues of the eye through the blood stream where they can damage the structure of the cells.”
Chief executive of the Macular Society, Cathy Yelf, said: “It is surprising how many people do not realise that smoking causes blindness. The message is often missing from anti-smoking messages, which simply concentrate on the life-threatening side effects of smoking. Sight loss, however, is a very important effect of smoking.”
Ms Yelf emphasised that smoking is incredibly bad for your eyes, adding: “You could be 20 or more times more likely to get macular disease if you have those certain genes and you smoke.”