Smokers are twice as likely to lose their sight in later life compared to non-smokers, campaigners have warned.
Many of the UK's 13 million smokers will be unaware of the link between smoking and age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which can lead to blindness.
But the AMD Alliance UK said the link between smoking and the condition was now as robust as the link between smoking and lung cancer.
AMD is the leading cause of sight loss in the UK, with around 500,000 sufferers. An estimated 54,000 people have AMD as a result of smoking, reports Daily Mail.
According to Times, a survey of more than a thousand people, published in association with the Royal National Institute of the Blind, found that only 7 per cent knew that AMD affected the eyes.
But seven out of ten smokers would either stop smoking permanently or cut down if they thought that their habit could harm their eyesight.
Pauline Edwards, 50, from Salford, Greater Manchester, said that she had smoked for most of her adult life but would have stopped if she had been aware of the link with sight loss. She added: “I smoked for years. Now I have AMD, am partially sighted in one eye and am likely to go blind.
“When you smoke you cannot imagine what it is like to have lung cancer and especially when you are young the risk of dying earlier doesn’t come into it. I’m a nurse, I saw people die from smoking-related diseases and that didn’t make me quit.