YOUNG smokers in Halton face increased risks of cataracts, age-related macular degeneration and blindness in later life, a local optician has warned.

Ahead of the British Heart Foundation’s flagship No Smoking Day on Wednesday, March 12, Widnes Specsavers is raising awareness of the less widely known dangerous effects the habit can have on eye health.

Angela Perls, store director at Widnes Specsavers, said:“Smoking, even in your teens or 20s when your senior years seem far away increases future risks for cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, and blindness.

“Long-term tobacco use may lower levels of vitamin A in the bloodstream. Vitamin A is an antioxidant that may prevent cellular damage and cancer formation caused by the oxidisation of free radicals. It is also necessary for preventing vision problems as well as helping to prevent skin problems.

“Tobacco chemicals damage the blood vessels behind your eyes causing age-related macular degeneration.

“Another condition caused by smoking, although very rare, is tobacco amblyopia, or a loss of vision in both eyes. For many years experts thought that this rare condition could only occur when alcoholism and malnutrition or a disorder of vitamin B12 metabolism also existed, but recent reports have suggested it can also occur independently of these other conditions, and stopping smoking can result in a total cure.”

Ms Perls said that No Smoking Day represents a fantastic opportunity to give smokers that extra motivation to kick the habit.

“Whatever your reason, thinking carefully about your motivation and keeping a reminder in key places can be really helpful for keeping you going through the tough times.”

For more information on No Smoking Day visit

If you are worried about your sight, you can make a free appointment at Specsavers Hearcare Centre in Widnes by calling 0151 495 3040.

An eye examination will not only detect problems with your vision, but it can also uncover a number of underlying health problems.