A new study has shown that nearly six in 10 or 57.5 per cent of smokers in Singapore are blind to the fact that smoking can cause blindness. The findings, conducted by local doctors and researchers, covered 200 smokers aged between 14 and 83. Blindness is a disability widely feared by most, yet only about four in 10 smokers here are aware of this risk of lighting up.
In fact, the study showed that the link between smoking and Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) – a form of eye disease – is the least recognised, among five other smoking-related diseases. These include lung cancer and heart attack, which each has more than a 70 per cent awareness rate. The study though showed that the fear of blindness is the second biggest motivating factor for smokers to quit the habit, after lung cancer. More than half of the respondents also felt that graphic health warnings were effective in getting them to stub it out. Medical experts said this showed a need to raise public awareness on blindness as a smoking-related disease.
The Minister of State for Health, Dr Amy Khor, who was speaking at the AMD Awareness week said there are now more than 30 million people worldwide suffering from some form of AMD. This figure is likely to triple over the next 25 years. Dr Khor said this makes the disease a “significant public health concern” as the population ages. Experts said apart from quitting smoking, preventive steps can be taken, such as having a diet rich in vegetables and vitamins.
Just remember that the next time you “light up” it may cause the lights to go out permanently.