Top eye surgeon and Optical Express UK Medical Director, Dr David Teenan says that there is no safe level of smoking – even when it comes to your eyesight. Following the Prime Minister’s announcement of plans for an outright ban on cigarettes, the eye care expert has exposed the devastating effect smoking can have on your vision.
Dr Teenan, a leading Ophthalmologist, says Sunak’s plan to phase out the sale of cigarettes in England spells good news for Brits’ eye health - revealing the disastrous yet little-known impact smoking can have on the eyes.
But what can smoking actually do to your eyesight? Here are just a few of the problems the habit can cause for the quality of your vision:
Smoking is just as bad for your eyes as it is for the rest of your body. People who smoke are twice as likely to develop age-related macular degeneration (AMD) compared with people who do not. AMD always begins in the dry form, and sometimes progresses to the more advanced wet form, where vision loss can be very rapid if left untreated.
The need for more light to read or do other tasks
AMD is an eye disease that affects central vision, which you need to see objects clearly. Even smokers who avoid the worst-case scenario of going blind may find that their vision is affected nonetheless, as everyday activities such as reading, driving, and even recognising faces become harder.
Blurred vision or straight lines that look wavy
The macula is a small part of the retina in the middle of your eyes that you need for sharp vision. When it gets damaged by AMD, your vision gets blurry and lines appear wavy, or there are patches of central vision that appear to be missing.
There is no active treatment for dry AMD but evidence is slowly accumulating to suggest certain lifestyle choices can reduce the risk of AMD, such as stopping smoking and doing more physical activity. Some types of wet AMD can be treated with injections into the eye. This would involve your doctor injecting a drug to stop the bleeding and prevent further damage to your eyes. Smokers who develop wet AMD often need several injections in each eye every year to save them from going blind.
Dr David Teenan, leading Ophthalmologist and UK Medical Director at Optical Express, explains further: “As far as Brits’ vision is concerned, the PM’s plan to raise the legal age of smoking so that eventually no one can buy tobacco is very welcome.“Young people who smoke must be warned: You could be setting yourself up for a future of bad eyesight, blurred vision, and even blindness. The best way to lower your risk of vision damage is by ditching cigarettes altogether – even smokers already suffering from poor eyesight can slow the decline by kicking the habit once and for all.”