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Smoking causes increased chance of blindness

5th September 2005

People that smoke during their lifetime have twice the risk of developing a degenerative eye disorder that is the leading cause of blindness in the elderly.

According to research from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, those people who smoke throughout their lives double their chances of developing age related macular degeneration (AMG).

Study leader, Professor Astrid Fletcher, said over 4,000 people aged 75-and-over took part in the study and were examined for their lifestyle habits and health conditions.

It was found that the risk of suffering from AMG increased with age and was more prevalent in those subjects who were smokers. People who quit more than 20 years earlier had no increased risk.

AMG blurs a person's central vision by affecting the macula – the part of the eye responsible for fine focus.

Professor Fletcher said based on the findings, it could be estimated that smoking is likely to be linked to around 30,000 cases of AMG in the UK.