By Dr S.S. Gill
Ipoh Echo’s EYE HEALTH series continues with Consultant Eye Surgeon Dr S.S. GILL talking to us about the ocular effects of cigarettes in conjunction with World No Tobacco Day 2019.
Malaysia has taken greater measures to discourage smoking in public places. In January this year, the Ministry of Health banned smoking in all open-air eateries, restaurants, coffee shops and hawker centres nationwide. Those caught smoking in prohibited areas could face a fine of up to RM10,000 or two years’ jail.
All smokers are only permitted to smoke 3m away from the establishment. Eateries too face the law if they allow customers to smoke on their premises with fines of up to RM2500. The smoking ban extends to include vape and shisha with nicotine too.
Eateries are expected to prominently display posters of at least 40cm x 50cm with the words “No Smoking” at their premises. Facilities for smokers such as smoking rooms and ashtrays are also no longer allowed. The public has also been advised to lodge complaints about any offenders to the ministry via its hotline 03 8892 4530.
These measures have been taken because the damaging effects of smoking on health cannot be taken lightly. Be aware that cigarette smoke contains thousands of ingredients including cancer-causing substances (carcinogens) and agents that cause inflammation.
Apart from eye effects (discussed in the previous issue), here are two other effects of smoking on our eyes.
AGE-RELATED MACULAR DEGENERATION
The macula of the eye is the most sensitive part of the back of the eye (nerve), The macula is responsible for the fine vision required for the many daily activities of the day. When the macula gets affected by this condition called Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD), it can result in a serious loss of central vision. This condition which was more common among Caucasians in the past is slowly becoming more prevalent among Asians too.
Smoking is known to cause inflammation to occur in the pigmented part of the eye called uvea (uveitis). The risk of such inflammation is approximately two times more with its problematic symptoms of glare, photophobia, eye redness, tearing and blurring vision. Uveitis is also difficult to treat and may become chronic.