Everyone should know by now that smoking is bad for overall health. However, according to new survey results, very few Britons know that smoking is a direct cause of blindness.
This survey, conducted by the Macular Society, shows that 53 percent of UK residents don't know that smoking increases the risks of developing blindness. Smoking is, of course, a major risk factor when it comes to developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
Smokers are at least four times more likely to have to deal with AMD in their lives versus non-smokers. Members of the Macular Society say it's important for the general public to know that smoking is the number one modifiable risk factor for AMD.
The main reason smoking has such a deleterious effect on the eyes has to do with the tobacco smoke. All of the toxic chemicals in this smoke go straight into a smoker's blood stream. Since the eye tissues are so delicate, it's very easy for toxic chemicals to damage a smoker's eyes.
Cathy Yelf, the Macular Society’s chief executive, said the results from this study were alarming. However, Yelf noted that most anti-smoking adverts focus on more life-threatening risks like cancer or heart disease. Although it's important to know about serious health issues related to smoking, Yelf believes the general public should be more aware of the risks to visual health.
Yelf also noted that people with certain genes could be more susceptible to the negative effects of smoking than others. Amazingly, some smokers could be 20 times more likely to develop a macular disease than non-smokers.
The Macular Society put out this survey before Macular Week to raise awareness of AMD. Macular Week will last from June 26th to July 2nd.
Given the surprising results from this study, the Macular Society plans to raise awareness of the harmful visual effects of smoking during this year's Macular Week. Members of the Macular Society want everyone in the UK to know that even passive smoking can have negative effects on a smoker's vision.
New data from Public Health England shows that around 17 percent of adults in England smoke on a regular basis. Thankfully, the average number of English smokers has been declining year on year. Experts believe the availability of nicotine patches and gums has helped thousands of smokers kick the habit.
Smoking combined with an unhealthy diet is the number one cause of preventable early death. Approximately 78,000 people die in the UK each year from complications related to both smoking and a poor diet.
AMD is a common eye disorder that often develops in patients over the age of 60. While AMD could be in a person's eyes before they notice any symptoms, the key symptom to look out for is blurred vision.
AMD is now the number one cause for sight loss in the UK. Doctors recommend everyone get an eye exam once a year to prevent diseases like AMD, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy from spreading.
The Macular Society is headquartered in Andover, Hampshire. Anyone interested in contacting this charity organization can call 01264 350551 or send an email to macularsociety.