Smoking can cause blindness

CNIB says new regulations for tobacco products labelling good news

TORONTO, June 13, 2012 /CNW/ - As of next week, June 19, retailers can only legally sell packages of cigarettes and little cigars that display new health warnings, including "risk of blindness." CNIB commends Health Canada for mandating the new warning about blindness, which specifically highlights the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). AMD is the leading cause of vision loss in Canadians 50 years and older.

"We know that primary and second-hand smoke from cigarettes is a major risk factor for AMD," said Dr. Keith Gordon, CNIB's Vice-President, Research. "If you smoke you are up to three to four times more likely to develop AMD."

CNIB's Dr. Gordon had previously bemoaned the fact that Canada had no requirements that cigarette packaging carry a warning about smoking and blindness, while other countries like Australia already had such requirements in place.

He said: "Quitting can make a difference. Studies indicate that a person's risk for AMD will decrease each year they don't smoke, so that after 20 years the risk is equal to that of someone who has never smoked."

AMD causes damage to the macula, the central part of the retina responsible for seeing fine details (such as reading print or seeing faces). People with AMD generally experience blurred central vision and a growing central blind spot.

In addition to AMD, smoking is a risk factor for developing cataracts as well as vision loss from damage to the retina due to diabetes.

Living with vision loss can be difficult. Clinical depression is three times as common in people with vision loss compared to the general population. And seniors with vision loss face twice the risk of falls and four times the hip fractures.

"If there weren't already compelling enough reasons for you to quit smoking, think about the risk to your vision," urged Dr. Gordon.

For more information about AMD, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy or other eye conditions, visit:

For more information about the new Health Canada regulations, visit: Information and resources for those who are considering quitting smoking is available at:

About CNIB
CNIB is a registered charity, passionately providing community-based support, knowledge and a national voice to ensure Canadians who are blind or partially sighted have the confidence, skills and opportunities to fully participate in life. To learn more, visit or call the toll-free CNIB Helpline at 1-800-563-2642.


For further information:

Or to schedule an interview with Dr. Keith Gordon, a local CNIB spokesperson or someone who has vision loss due to an eye disease, please contact:
Erika Bennett, Public Relations Specialist
(416) 486-2500 ext. 8355

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