Most teens unaware of tobacco blindness risks

In collaboration with the Press Association

More than nine out of ten teenagers are unaware that smoking can lead to blindness, new research has shown.

While many knew of the link between smoking, heart disease and cancer, few were aware that cigarettes may cause deterioration of a part of the retina called the macula, which is the leading cause of blindness in old age.

The Bolton Hospital research team said that the link could be an effective warning against tobacco, as young people listed blindness as their greatest health-related fear.

"We are calling for the message 'Smoking causes blindness' to go on cigarette packages," said lead researcher Dr Simon Kelly of Bolton Hospital NHS Trust.

"The message has been used in Australia on both cigarette packages and TV campaigns and it has been found to be highly effective.

"When patients are told smoking is damaging their eyes, in my experience, they are usually keen to quit smoking," he added. The study is published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology.