Research reveals Newham ranks among sight loss ‘hot spots’ nationwide

Smoking is a major contributor to cases of avoidable sight loss in the borough, new research has shown.

Almost a third of Newham residents smoke, which puts them at a risk of developing age-related sight loss four times greater than non-smokers, according to researchers.

The borough was among eight sight loss hot spots identified in a report commissioned by National Eye Health Week and carried out in conjunction with Vision Express.

The avoidable eye condition smoking creates is known as age-related macular degeneration and is the UK’s leading cause of blindness.

Francesca Marchetti, chair of National Eye Health Week, said: “Prevention and early diagnosis of common eye conditions are key to reducing the number of people who suffer sight loss unnecessarily.”

She said there was a “worrying number of people failing to take up their entitlement to free NHS sight tests” in a number of these areas.

“Without greater public awareness of the importance of regular sight tests, and the affect lifestyle choices can have on vision, these at-risk ‘hotspots’ could easily become ‘blind spots’,” she added.

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Other known causes of sight loss include obesity and poor nutrition.

Head of professional services at Vision Express, Omar Hassan, said: “Poor lifestyle choices are taking their toll and we’re seeing younger people increasingly suffering vision problems associated with smoking and obesity.

“Your diet also affects your eyes, so it’s important to ensure you eat a balanced diet full of eye-friendly nutrients.

“Nutritional supplements may be beneficial for some people, especially in areas where the consumption of fruits and vegetables is low.”

Experts revealed almost two million people in the UK are living with sight loss and predictions indicate a further half a million could lose their sight by the year 2020.

Contact your local GP for more information about free eye examinations and hot to achieve a balanced, healthy diet.