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Optical | Health and expertise | Press release | Stub it out: Specsavers warns of the effects of smoking on your eyes

Stub it out: Specsavers warns of the effects of smoking on your eyes

21 february 2018

Press release

THIS Stoptober Specsavers is urging people to stub out their cigarettes and put down their vapes to avoid putting their eye health at risk.
 
While the health effects on our lungs and heart are widely known, many people do not realise that smoking can also be detrimental to our sight, putting us more at risk of dry eyes, glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration (AMD) which can result in blindness.
 
Specsavers clinical spokesperson, Dr Nigel Best says: ‘While traditional tobacco smokers remain the most at risk of developing AMD, research also indicates that vapour from e-cigarettes can cause irritation and lead to dry eye syndrome.
 
‘AMD affects around 600,000 people[1] in the UK alone and smokers are more likely to suffer from this eye condition than non-smokers. The condition is most common in people over the age of 50 and smoking increases the risk of contracting it.’
 
Dr Best adds: ‘Dry Eye Syndrome can also be extremely uncomfortable as the surface of the eye becomes inflamed. This inflammation further damages the cells which are responsible for tear production, resulting in a vicious circle of increasing inflammation and dryness.
 
‘Another condition to be aware of is glaucoma. While there is no evidence that smoking itself is a risk factor for glaucomatous damage, older smokers do have a higher risk of developing increased eye pressure compared to non-smokers.’
 
Karen Osborn, chief executive of the International Glaucoma Association (IGA) adds: ‘In extreme cases where it leads to vision loss, glaucoma can become a very isolating condition. While it hasn’t been directly linked to causing glaucomatous damage, smoking can play a part in increasing eye pressure so it is vital that people try to break the habit in order to reduce the risks to their eyes, as well as their overall health.’ 
 
How else can smoking affect our eye health?
  • Damages blood vessels in the eyes
  • Can interfere with production of tears
  • Reduces the amount of oxygen that reaches the macular
  • On average smokers develop AMD five years earlier than those who don’t smoke
  • Contact lens wearers who smoke are more likely to suffer with corneal ulcers
 
Your eyes can reveal a lot about your general health and so it’s really important for both children and adults to have regular eye tests – once every two years, or more often if recommended by your optometrist. To book your next appointment go to www.specsavers.co.uk and for support materials on stopping smoking visit www.nhs.uk/smokefree.