Tobacco 'sight loss' warning call
Published on 02 May 2012 11:00 AM
Smokers over the age of 50 are four times more likely to lose their sight than non-smokers or those who have given up the habit, an eye disease expert has revealed.
Professor Andrew Lotery, a consultant ophthalmologist at Southampton General Hospital, consequently wants cigarette packaging to carry warning labels to highlight older smokers' increased risk of partial blindness.
He went on to explain that similar warnings have been used on cigarette packets in Australia for the past six years and could help more smokers give up here in the UK.
Some people have a greater risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD) due to their genes, and it is thought that smoking raises this risk as well.
It is the most common cause of blindness in people aged over 50. AMD causes gradual loss of central, but not peripheral, vision needed for detailed work such as reading and driving. It does not cause complete blindness.
Professor Lotery said: 'While people are well aware smoking is a leading cause of cancer, respiratory problems and heart disease, there is little knowledge of its association with AMD and blindness.
'Eye health has long been the victim of apathy within health services across the world and, in turn, this has led to the growth of a culture of neglect among individuals unaware of the consequences of their actions.'
Copyright Press Association 2012