Smoking can blind you, say doctors

By Lunar Loops · May 23, 2006 · ·
  1. Lunar Loops
    Smoking can blind you, say doctors

    [FONT=Geneva,Arial,sans-serif]Jo Revill, health editor
    Sunday May 21, 2006
    The Observer

    [/FONT]Cigarette packets should carry warnings that smoking causes blindness, doctors will argue this week as a new study shows that the habit can badly damage eyesight. A European study is set to show the leading cause of blindness - age-related macular degeneration - is directly attributable to smoking in more than one in four cases. In addition, clouding of the eye lens occurs in smokers 10 to 15 years earlier than in non-smokers.
    'There are many thousands of smokers who have no idea smoking can actually rob you of your sight,' said Nick Astbury, president of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists. 'The chemicals affect blood vessels throughout the body, and one of the secondary effects is that they slowly damage the tissues of the eye.'

    For years, cigarette packets have carried health warnings linking cigarettes to heart disease, cancer and harm to unborn babies. Now eye specialists will call this week for cigarette packets to carry warnings about blindness.
    A report, so far unpublished, on 5,000 patients across the EU - the European Eye Study - shows that 27 per cent of them had eye disease directly attributable to smoking. Other studies show that passive smoking can lead to eye diseases.
    Simon Kelly, consultant ophthalmic surgeon at the Bolton Hospitals NHS Trust in Greater Manchester, who has campaigned for awareness of the risks, carried out research last year in which he asked 400 patients about the links between illness and smoking. Although 90 per cent realised the habit could cause lung cancer, fewer than 10 per cent knew smoking could cause blindness.
    'The evidence is so strong now that smoking really does harm the eye,' said Kelly. 'In the case of macular degeneration, we know smokers have a twofold to threefold risk of developing the condition. But if they also have a genetic predisposition to the disease, that becomes an eightfold increased risk.'
    He called for a campaign aimed at younger people. 'In Australia and New Zealand, they ran a TV campaign spelling out that blindness could be caused by cigarettes, and that led to 72 per cent of the population accepting that there was a link.'
    With macular degeneration, damage occurs because chemicals in tobacco affect the metabolism of the retina and bring about a premature ageing of the eye. People risk gradually losing their central vision and could go completely blind. There are two forms of the disease, 'dry' and 'wet' macular degeneration. In Britain, 250,000 people suffer from the wet type, which is linked to smoking and is partly caused by leakage of fluid. Some people don't lose their sight entirely, but find they can no longer read or drive. It mostly affects people over 60, but in some cases where there are genetic factors it can occur in middle age.

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  1. The Doors
    Really interesting article. I'm a casual smoker(2-3 cigs a day max, I often go a few days without a cigarette too) and I wasn't aware that it could lead to blindness. Definately makes me think, I most likely won't stop smoking but this kind of information just confirms that I don't want to smoke more then I do now.

    I'm not the only one who thinks this but the eyesight is very important to pretty much everyone, so a campaign using eyesight reduction should be in the works around the world.
  2. illume.
    Interesting, it is a good idea that this new information be made public. however it should be stressed that smoking is bad for prettymuch your whole body. there is no way to tell which part of you is going to crap out first due to smoking, but it should be stressed that SOMTHING will. swim believes that people are more likley to dismiss studies targeted at a specific ilness as scare tactics, because of the simple fact that MANY things can cause blindness. The same way that ppl now say MANY things can cause cancer. If the overall toxicity of smoking is adressed it may have greater results?However people are free to, and will, do as they wish. The general populace should be able to make a properly informed and educated decision
  3. Paracelsus
    It may be worth noting that the information is everything but "new" - you just resurrected a "drug news" thread from 2006.
  4. illume.
    Yes i am aware of that, we had the "smoking causes blindnes" thing on our cig packets over here in aus a while ago. just wanted to express that it has made no difference, I did not think it has been mainstream in other countries.
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