Smoking can cause significant eyesight damage and increase the risk of sight-threatening conditions which eventually lead to blindness, a new research conducted by the Association of Optometrists (AOP) has found.
According to the specialists, cigarette smoke contains toxic chemicals that can irritate and harm the eyes on contact and these include heavy metals, like lead and copper, which could accumulate in the lens and lead to cataracts.
In a poll organized by the optometrists’ organization, 18 percent of 2006 participants reported an increase in the risk of sight loss due to smoking while 76% percent linked it to other adverse health conditions like lung damage and cancer.
“People tend to know about the link between smoking and cancer, but many people are not aware of the impact that smoking can have upon the eyes,” said Aishah Fazlanie, clinical and regulatory adviser and optometrist at AOP. “Smoking increases the risk of sight-threatening conditions, such as age-related macular degeneration, which is an important reason why smokers should consider quitting.” The AOP warned that for smokers to protect their vision, they must avoid cigarette and also have regular sight checks.
The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) also added that smokers are twice as likely to lose their sight compared to non-smokers. “Stub out your cigarette, not your vision,” it said. A 2017 report by Isaac Adewole, Nigerian minister of health, had claimed that about 4.5 million Nigerians consume 20 billion cigarettes yearly.
Yet, not many are aware that their eyesight is being put at risk. “Over 20 billion sticks of cigarettes are consumed in the country by 4.5 million adults. This is 5.6 percent of our population annually. 4.1 million men and 500,000 women smoke in Nigeria while 6.4 million adults are exposed to smokers,” he was quoted to have said.