During any sight test, your optometrist will ask you a few questions to get an idea of your medical history. One of the questions you will usually be asked is whether you are a smoker or not. The reason for us asking this question is simple, smoking increases your chances of developing certain eye conditions – so if we know you are a smoker, it helps us to better look after your eyes.
Did you know?
- Smokers significantly increase their risk of developing a cataract compared with non-smokers. In fact, studies show that people who smoke double their chance of forming cataracts, and the risk continues to increase the more you smoke.
- Studies show smokers can increase the risk of developing Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) by three times compared with people who have never smoked. BUT..because smoking is the biggest controllable risk factor associated with AMD, quitting smoking at any age, even later in life, can significantly reduce your risk of developing it.
- Evidence shows smokers are more likely than non-smokers to have uveitis, and smoking appears linked to the development of uveitis. One study found smoking was associated with a 2.2 times greater than normal risk of having the condition.
- Smoking may as much as double the risk of developing diabetes. Any of our Diabetic patients will be aware – a known complication of diabetes is Diabetic Retinopathy (which damages the blood vessels of the retina and can result in vision loss.)
- Sufferers of Dry Eye Syndrome can experience eye redness, itchiness, a “foreign body” sensation and even watery eyes. Tobacco smoke is a known eye irritant and worsens dry eye — even among second-hand smokers — particularly for contact lens wearers. People who smoke are nearly twice as likely to have dry eyes.
- Smoking while pregnant increases the chance of many fetal and infant eye disorders, among other serious health problems. These include strabismus (crossed eyes) and underdevelopment of the optic nerve, which is a leading cause of blindness in children. Also, women who smoke during pregnancy are more likely to give birth prematurely; all babies born prematurely are at greater risk of eye problems than full-term babies.
We can help!
We are now part of a pilot scheme, funded by the Welsh Assembly Government in association with Stop Smoking Wales. Stop Smoking Wales statistics show that you are four times more likely to quit if you use their help. The scheme runs for three months and during the scheme, if you are a smoker, we will ask you if you are interested in getting FREE help to give up.
If you answer yes, we will take a few details and arrange for you to get a call from a Stop Smoking Wales advisor in your area who can help you give up for good. If you answer no, we’ll carry on with your sight test.