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Wigan smokers face increased risk of eye disease, warns local optician ahead of national No Smoking Day
Monday 10th March, 2014

Smokers in Wigan face increased risks of cataracts, age-related macular degeneration and blindness in later life, a local optician has warned.

Ahead of the British Heart Foundation’s flagship No Smoking Day (March 12), Wigan Specsavers store director Graeme Gardner, is raising awareness of the less widely known yet significant and dangerous effects the habit can have on eye health and is urging smokers to use the event as an encouragement to quit for good.

Stopping smoking is one of the best investments you can make in your long term eye health. But while most people attempting to quit the habit cite huge benefits such as saving money, having healthier lungs and enjoying food more as tastebud function improves, it’s often overlooked that smoking can dramatically increase the risk of eye disease.

Graeme Gardner comments: ‘Smoking - even in your teens or twenties when your senior years seem far away - increases future risks for cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, and blindness.

‘Long-term tobacco use may lower levels of vitamin A in the bloodstream. Vitamin A is an antioxidant that may prevent cellular damage and cancer formation caused by the oxidisation of free radicals. It is also necessary for preventing vision problems as well as helping to ward off skin problems.

‘Tobacco chemicals damage the blood vessels behind your eyes causing age-related macular degeneration.

‘Another condition caused by smoking, although very rare, is tobacco amblyopia, or a loss of vision in both eyes. For many years experts thought that this rare condition could only occur when alcoholism and malnutrition or a disorder of vitamin B12 metabolism also existed, but recent reports have suggested it can also occur independently of these other conditions, and stopping smoking can result in a total cure.’

Mr Gardner adds that No Smoking Day represents a fantastic opportunity to give smokers that extra motivation to kick the habit.

‘Whatever your reason, thinking carefully about your motivation and keeping a reminder in key places can be really helpful for keeping you going through the tough times.’

For more information on No Smoking Day visit www.nosmokingday.org.uk/

An eye examination will not only detect problems with your vision, but it can also uncover a number of underlying health problems.

If you are worried about your sight, you can make an appointment at Specsavers Wigan by calling 0161 763 3916.

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