Smoking and sight loss – community eye care providers to help people give up
A new quality standard for smoking cessation published last week by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) enables optical professionals to play a greater role in educating smokers about the harm tobacco can cause to their vision and in supporting them to kick the habit.
NICE quality standards are designed to drive and measure priority quality improvements within a particular topic. Smoking is the main cause of preventable illness and premature death in England but few realise that smokers also have three times the incidence of age-related macular degeneration compared with non-smokers and smoking is strongly associated with cataracts.
The Optical Confederation joined with the College of Optometrists to submit a joint response to the NICE consultation in April, noting that primary eye care providers are best placed to increase awareness of the link between smoking and avoidable sight loss.
As a result of this consultation response opticians and optometrists have been included on the list of healthcare professionals that can advise and counsel smokers on their increased risk, the benefits of stopping and, where appropriate, refer them to a local stop smoking service.
Now we are all living longer the disastrous effects of smoking are more prominent with a greater number of cataracts and aged related macular degeneration showing up in later life. People have a greater fear of becoming blind or partially sighted than they do of death itself. So National Eye Health Week could be a good time to stop smoking and enjoy the best years of your life by seeing better.
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