Smokers twice as likely to go blind

Sept. 7, 2005 at 6:12 PM
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LONDON, Sept. 7 (UPI) -- Smokers are twice as likely to go blind as non-smokers but few people know that age-related macular degeneration affects the eyes, a British group says.

British ophthalmologists, in a recent review of 17 studies of age-related macular degeneration or AMD, found that two-thirds of the papers showed clear links between smoking and AMD.

While the review found smokers are twice as likely to go blind in later life, a survey by the AMD Alliance and Royal National Institute of the Blind found only 7 percent of Britons know that the condition attacks their sight.

"Smoking is the only proven cause of AMD that people can do anything about, yet people are not aware of the link and most people have not even heard of the condition," AMD Alliance Chairman Steve Winyard told the Times of London.

"The message is simple: Do not take up smoking and, if you do, stop," Winyard said. "An eye test can save your sight."

AMD is the leading cause of blindness in Britain.

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