So what’s the deal with smoking and your sight? Smoking remains the single largest cause of preventable ill health in Wales, and a significant cause of health inequity. Despite considerable progress in reducing the prevalence of smoking, data from the Welsh Health Survey 2015 shows there are still around 490,000 adult smokers in Wales. The survey also shows that over two in three smokers want to stop and approximately 40 per cent of smokers actively try to quit each year.
Stopping smoking is the best thing you can do for your own health – and the health of people around you. Not convinced? Here are twenty – yes twenty! – reasons why smoking is bad for your eyesight:
- Tobacco smoke causes biological changes in your eyes that can lead to vision loss
- Cigarettes contain toxins that enter your eyes and increase your risk of sight loss by up to four times
- Tobacco chemicals damage blood vessels inside your eyes
- Tobacco chemicals interfere with the production of your tears
- Smoking causes oxidative stress and damages your retina
- Tobacco reduces the amount of oxygen that reaches your macula
- Smoking is a key risk factor for Age Related Macular Degeneration, the UK’s leading cause of blindness
- Research published in the British Medical Journal suggests one in five cases of Age Related Macular Degeneration are caused by tobacco consumption
- On average, smokers develop Age Related Macular Degeneration five years earlier than non-smokers
- 10 Smoking is a major risk factor in the development of Cataracts
- The risk of nuclear cataracts is three times greater in smokers
- Smoking is a significant risk factor for developing Diabetic Retinopathy
- Smoking increases your risk of Dry Eye Syndrome – the leading cause of eye irritation in people over the age of 65
- Smoking is associated with the development of Thyroid Eye Disease
- Smokers have increased prevalence of colour vision deficiency
- Nicotine poisoning can make it difficult to clearly distinguish colours with a red or green hue
- Smokers are twice as likely to suffer Uveitis (inflammation of the eye’s middle layer or uvea) than non-smokers.
- Smoking increases the risk of contact lens wearers suffering corneal ulcers
- Smoking in pregnancy increases the risk of your baby developing Strabismus more commonly known as a squint; women who smoke when pregnant are more likely to give birth prematurely so their babies are more at risk of Retinopathy of Prematurity
- Smoking around loved ones increases their risk of developing sight loss
Help Me Quit is the single point of contact for smokers who want to stop smoking in Wales. Help Me Quit is:
- a single brand for NHS stop smoking services in Wales
- a bilingual website with information on all NHS stop smoking services in Wales
- a contact centre team that provides smokers with access to all NHS stop smoking services including community pharmacy, Stop Smoking Wales and hospital based services.
- making it easier for smokers to choose the best NHS stop smoking support for them in their local area
- the best choice a smoker can make to quit smoking.
It’s never too late to quit. You’ll start seeing the benefits immediately, not just for your health but also your finances. Did you know that if a smoker can quit for 28 days, they are five times more likely to quit for good? If you’re a smoker, and you want to quit, call Help me Quit on 0800 085 2219 (Freephone number), text them on HMQ to 80818 (texts cost one standard rate message) or go online and complete the short ‘Request a Call-back’ form.
You, your bank balance and your eyes will thank you for it!