As the smoking ban comes into force in England a survey published recently by the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) reveals that just 30 per cent of people in the UK know that smoking can cause blindness.

The UK's 13 million smokers are at least twice as likely as non-smokers to lose their sight in later life yet most people are not even aware of this extra reason to give up.

The link between smoking and AMD (age-related macular degeneration) is as robust as the link between smoking and lung cancer, yet few people know this or have even heard of AMD5. AMD is the UK's leading cause of sight loss - there are around 500,000 people in the UK with the condition - and an estimated 54,000 people have the condition as a result of smoking.

Barbara McLaughlan, RNIB Campaigns Manager, said: "Smoking is the only proven cause of AMD that people can do anything about yet our research shows that only a small percentage know this. With the smoking ban now in force in England this gives everyone trying to quit another very strong incentive.

"RNIB is calling on the Government to introduce specific warnings on cigarette packets and to fund a major public awareness campaign on the dangers of smoking to your eyesight."

The benefits of quitting smoking are very real. Studies have shown that people who stopped smoking 20 years ago have a similar risk of developing AMD as non-smokers do and the risk starts to decrease after ten years of not smoking5.

-- Every day another 100 people in the UK will start to lose their sight. There are around two million people in the UK with sight problems. RNIB is the leading charity working in the UK offering practical support, advice and information for anyone with sight difficulties. If you, or someone you know, has a sight problem RNIB can help. Call the RNIB Helpline on 0845 766 9999 or visit w www.rnib .

-- TNS OnLineBus survey commissioned by RNIB asking the question: Did you know that smoking can cause blindness?

-- Smoking and Age-Related Macular Degeneration: A Review of Association, Thornton J, Edwards R, Mitchell P, Harrison R, Buchan I, Kelly SP, published in Eye 07/09/2005

-- Kelly SP, Thornton J, Lyratzopolous G, et al: Smoking and blindness, British Medical Journal 2004; 328: 537- 8

-- AMD Campaign Report 2005 (UK), Awareness of Age-related Macular Degeneration and Associated Risk Factors, Barbara McLaughan, 07/09/2005.

Royal National Institute of Blind People

Tag Cloud