Sight warnings to feature on cigarette packets?
A leading consultant ophthalmologist has called for sight warnings to be used on packets of cigarettes, alerting smokers to the dangers cigarettes can have in terms of sight deterioration. Professor Andrew Lotery from Southampton General Hospital claims that such warnings would help to reduce the cases of age-related blindness in the UK.
One of the main areas of eye health expressed as a concern by Professor Lotery is age-related macular degeneration (AMD); the most common cause of vision loss in those aged over 50. Professor Lotery claims that smokers are four times more likely to develop the condition than those who have quit smoking or who have never smoked. According to statistics, smoking causes around 20% of sight loss in UK adults aged over 50.
Despite these statistics, there is seemingly a lack of awareness of the risks smoking can have on eyesight. Recent research conducted on patients at Southampton general Hospital found that 47% were unaware of the link between smoking and eye disease. The study, which was recently published in the journal ‘Eye’, reported that 67% of respondents would be likely to or would definitely quit smoking if told they had a high genetic risk of developing AMD.
Commenting on the suggestion for health warnings on cigarette packets, Professor Lotery commented: "While people are well aware smoking is a leading cause of cancer, respiratory problems and heart disease, there is little knowledge of its association with AMD and blindness”.
Australia is one of the few countries that currently display warnings relating to eye disease on cigarette packets. These were introduced in the country in 2006.