A Sheffield optometrist is backing this year’s No Smoking Day theme of Swap your fags for swag and advising people that stopping smoking can benefit more than their finances.
Independent optometrist Alex Gage is using the thirtieth anniversary of No Smoking Day on 13th March to highlight the eye health benefits of stopping smoking.
Alex said: “Smoking has long been associated with macular degeneration; a medical condition that can cause blindness” and, quoting information from Eye* continued “It is the most consistently established modifiable risk factor for macular degeneration. A large pool of evidence confirms a significant association between smoking and macular degeneration. The risk of macular degeneration is two- to three-fold higher in current-smokers compared with never-smokers.”
Public awareness about the risk of eye diseases associated with smoking is very low. According to a British Journal of Ophthalmology study in 2007** only 5% of teenagers in the UK identified smoking as a cause of blindness but acknowledged that fear of blindness was a strong motivating factor in stopping smoking. In addition, seven out of ten smokers say they would stop or reduce consumption if they thought smoking could harm their eyesight***
To celebrate No Smoking Day, he will reduce the price of a 3D OCT (Ocular Coherence Tomography) scan that can pick up the earliest signs of macular change by £10 for people who book an OCT appointment week between 11th and 18th March.
In addition, Alex displays leaflets to alert his patients to the effects of smoking on eye health and to give advice on how to stop at his practices in Crosspool and Woodseats throughout the year.
Alex invested in the state of the art 3D OCT camera to enable him to take both a digital photo and a 3D cross sectional scan of the back of the eye at the same time. Ocular Coherence Tomography works like ultrasound but uses light, not sound waves, to illustrate the different layers that make up the back of the eye and it is thought that Alex is only one of a handful of optometrists in the North of England to have invested in the equipment
Working with the British Heart Foundation, the No Smoking Day charity aims to reduce tobacco related death and illness by motivating smokers to quit together on No Smoking Day. It also aims to extend the reach of its work by providing year–round help and support for quitters through WeQuit.co.uk, a dedicated website for people who want to quit.