Smokers warned that the habit can be linked to loss of eyesight in later life

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Smokers in South Tyneside are being warned that they could be increasing their chances of developing the most common form of sight loss among the elderly people sooner, unless they quit.

South Tyneside Council joined forces with the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) to highlight the danger that smoking can seriously impair people’s vision as part of National Eye Health Week

Lead member for public health and wellbeing at South Tyneside Council, Coun Moira Smith said: “Smoking can double the risk of Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) – when central vision becomes blurred and distorted making everyday activities like watching TV, reading, driving and even recognizing faces more difficult or impossible.

“AMD also tends to develop earlier in smokers and there is no current cure.”

RNIB volunteer Peter Bennetts, 60, of South Shields, said: “If you smoke, you are twice as likely to develop Age-related Macular Degeneration which is the leading cause of blindness in the UK. I have this condition and wonder how people would feel if they could not see the faces of loved ones or recognise friends.

“Can you imagine not being able to read text or watch the television and struggle to make a meal or cup of tea? This is how I live every day of my life.”

Peter who is also a trustee of the South Tyneside Sight Service, added: “If you want to cut down the risks of losing your sight and going blind, please stop smoking and eat a healthy diet with plenty of green vegetables.”