Age-related macular degeneration is the most common cause of adult blindness, which results in irreversible loss of central vision. A recent study shows smokers are up to four-times as likely to become blind later in life from age-related macular degeneration. The study showed quitting smoking slows the development of the blinding condition. On the other hand, continued smoking can affect the long-term response to treatments such as laser therapy.
One in five cases of the condition in England, where the study was done, may be attributable to smoking. Researchers suggest offering smoking cessation support to people attending eye clinics and more specific warnings of the impact of smoking on eyesight. They also recommend a campaign to raise awareness of the link between smoking and blindness. Specialists say that smoking has been associated with several other eye diseases including nuclear cataract and thyroid eye disease. They also say that professionals, as well as the public, would benefit from greater awareness.