Smokey eyes are regarded as sexy, sultry and stunning. But nothing could be further from the truth, according to new research unveiled this National Eye Health Week.
Across the UK, GPs and optometrists confirm a link between smoking and loss of vision. Yet seven in 10 (70 per cent) of UK adults do not know that smoking can lead to blindness.
The new research, commissioned by Optegra Eye Health Care, the UK’s largest specialist eye hospital group, reveals that 82 per cent of optometrists say there is a link between smoking and poor eye health, and 56 per cent of UK general practitioners agree.
This makes smoking the biggest cause of eye health problems in medical professionals’ view, ahead of diet (49 per cent), genetics (38 per cent) and UV rays (30 per cent).
Smoking is even cited as a higher cause of vision problems than a lack of regular eye tests (23 per cent).
According to the RNIB, smokers double their risk of developing AMD and also tend to develop the disease earlier than non-smokers.[i]
Yet less than half UK adults (46 per cent) realise smokers are at increased risk of glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataract.
Sundeep Kheterpal, ophthalmic consultant surgeon from Optegra Eye Health Care says: "Most people are aware of the association between smoking and heart and lung disease but smoking is bad for the eyes as well. Smoking can be a significant risk in causing diseases such as dry eye, circulatory blockages, macular degeneration and subsequent severe loss of vision - another reason to give up the habit"
While young adults are most susceptible to taking up smoking - among adult smokers, over 80 per cent took up smoking before the age of 20[ii]
- the lack of awareness between smoking and blindness is highest (75 per cent) amongst 16-24 year olds.
into tobacco packaging also revealed that ‘smoking causing blindness’ has more impact for Brits than messages about death or lung cancer.
Experts at Guys and St Thomas’ Hospital who ran the study believe this is because British adults have become ‘de-sensitised’ to these frightening messages, while the graphic ‘blindness’ message is impactful due to low knowledge and high emotional impact.
Optegra operates 23 eye hospitals and clinics, bringing together leading edge research, medical expertise and state-of-the-art surgical equipment. Its top ophthalmic surgeons are renowned for their areas of expertise, offering excellent clinical outcomes for the A to Z of eye health care.
[i] RNIB: http://www.rnib.org.uk/eye-health-looking-after-your-eyes/smoking-and-sight-loss