Smoking and Sight Loss

Published at 10 July, 2017.

Smoking and Sight Loss

A macular week overview

Most smokers know they are at a higher risk of lung cancer, heart disease and stroke. However, not many people know the risks smoking has on your senses.

It can affect your sense in so many ways such as:

  • You are 70% more likely to suffer from hearing loss
  • Not only can smoking cause mouth cancer, it also flattens taste, making food less palatable.
  • Your sense of smell decreases when you smoke.
  • You can experience sharp tingling in the legs and feet or a feeling of numbness.

And finally, smoking causes harm to the tissues of the eye. This can lead to macular conditions- which most people haven’t heard of.

So, what is Macular Disease?

The macula is part of the retina at the back of the eye. It is only about 5mm across but is responsible for all our central vision, most of our colour vision and the fine detail of what we see. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common disease associated with this part of the eye.

AMD usually affects people over 60 but it can happen earlier. In the UK around 600,000 people are affected by AMD, your central vision becomes blurry or distorted and gaps or dark spots may appear in your vision. As AMD progresses, your ability to see clearly will change. 

When you smoke, you become four times more likely to develop AMD. Although AMD is not always directly caused by smoking, it is the largest modifiable factor to prevent developing it. Not to mention that smokers are proven to not react as well to the treatment.

The condition is devastating for people and creates distress which can become unbearable. 

It can become a huge issue in daily life with:

  • Making food
  • Looking after your personal appearance
  • Reading and taking medication
  • Using the phone
  • Watching TV
  • Walking, Driving and Public Transport

Not to mention, some people with sight loss experience visual hallucinations, known as Charles Bonnet Syndrome. In fact, it is expected that half of the people with Macular Disease will experience hallucinations. It can cause unimaginable distress and affect your mental health.

Even if this doesn’t bother you, passive smoking can cause AMD too, that means your smoking habit could cause your friends, children or partner to develop this disease. How would that make YOU feel?

If you are concerned about this disease then there is help available. is a group which can support you if you think you have already developed the disease. Or if you are concerned you are at risk and want to stop smoking before it’s too late, you can contact us for free, no judgement advice to guide you in the right direction!



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