28 May 2012 (Dubai, United Arab Emirates): Here’s another very good reason not to smoke or to stop smoking. We are all aware of the damage that smoking can do to the body but smoking is also the single most important lifestyle factor when it comes to eye health and protecting the eyes and the quality of your vision, according to a Dubai-based eye expert.
According to studies published in the British Medical Journal, cigarettes increase the chances of developing age-related macular degeneration and smokers are up to four times more likely to go blind in old age. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of adult blindness in the UK and results in severe and irreversible loss of central vision, especially in people over the age of 60.
According to the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) people fear losing their sight more than any other sense and so there is a need to create greater awareness of the link between smoking and the significantly increased risk of losing sight from AMD.
Dr Chris Canning, Medical Director at Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai, says: “The good news is that researchers also suggest that giving up smoking helps reduce the risk of AMD in later life. In addition to stopping smoking, what is important for long-term eye health is diet and rest. If you are experiencing unusual symptoms such as cloudy vision, blurred images, floating spots and loss of vision, head to an ophthalmologist to get them checked.”
Macular degeneration affects the macular at the back of the eye, impairing central vision. The macula is a small area in the centre of the retina. The retina is the layer at the back of the eye which is sensitive to light. When light enters the eye it passes through the clear cornea and lens at the front of the eye, and the vitreous (jelly like substance in the eye). The retina receives the images and passes them to the brain and this is how we see. The macula is the centre-most part of the retina where the light comes to a focus when you are looking at an object and where detailed vision takes place. The rest of the retina (peripheral) is responsible for side and night vision. The retina and macula rest on another layer at the back of the eye, which provides oxygen and nutrition to the retina and is responsible for clearing waste products.
Abnormalities in this area can cause macular degeneration either by blocking nutrition or causing blood vessels to grow under the retina; these blood vessels destroy structures around them as they grow. If the cells in the macula deteriorate then the central part of your field of vision (what you can see) becomes blurred.
Issued on behalf of MEHD by WPR.
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