Research has shown that smoking can double the chances of developing age-related macular degeneration
The Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) has called on the government to fund a major disease awareness campaign on the dangers to your eyesight of smoking, after research revealed that smoking doubles the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
RNIB, which has launched a hard-hitting campaign to warn the public about the condition, said the link between smoking and AMD is now as strong as the link between smoking and lung cancer. But stressed that few people are aware of the link or even know about AMD.
AMD is the leading cause of sight loss in the UK: some 500,000 have the condition, of these around 54,000 are said to have AMD as a result of smoking. Yet, a report from AMD Alliance UK reveals that just 7 per cent of people in the UK know that AMD can affect sight. However, seven out of 10 smokers asked said they would either stop smoking or cut down if they thought it could damage their eyesight.
Simon Kelly, consultant ophthalmic surgeon at the Bolton Eye Unit and co-author of the research report, said: ìKnowledge of the link between smoking and AMD is very low but evidence from Australia and New Zealand shows that raising awareness of this link creates a powerful message for the general public.î
ìIn my clinical experience, when people are diagnosed with AMD and learn of the link with smoking they are often sufficiently shocked and motivated to want to stop smoking straight away,î he added.
The charity, which is joining the British Medical Association and the Royal College of Ophthalmologists in calling for a ban on smoking in public places and offices, has also called on the government to introduce warnings on cigarette packets about the dangers associated with smoking and AMD.
The new campaign, (pictured above) will appear in national, regional and consumer press.