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New tool for health professionals in the fight against smoking-related eye diseases

MEDIA RELEASE

A new eye health resource has been launched this week to assist health professionals in helping patients understand the link between smoking and eye disease.

Peak eye health and vision care body, Vision 2020 Australia has joined forces with Quit Victoria to produce the new Vision Initiative Smoking and Vision Loss information sheet which hopes to encourage discussions between smokers and health professionals about the effects smoking has on eyes and vision.

Vision 2020 Australia CEO Jennifer Gersbeck said while most people know that smoking is not good for their health, many are surprised to learn that smokers are at an increased risk of vision loss.

“Health professionals are best placed to raise awareness about the impact of smoking on eye health and encourage patients to quit,” Ms Gersbeck said.

Quit Victoria Executive Director Fiona Sharkie said US research had showed that if a thousand smokers quit, there would be 48 fewer cases of macular degeneration and 12 fewer cases of blindness.

"By starting a conversation with a patient about their smoking, there is a great opportunity to help prevent poor eye health in the future," Ms Sharkie said.

"We appreciate that GPs, nurses, optometrists and other health professionals may be time poor, however assisting a patient to quit could be as easy as referring them through to the Quitline."

Ms Sharkie said quitting smoking was the single best thing a patient could do to reduce their risk of eye disease like macular degeneration,  and with a range of free support options available to assist smokers to quit, there had never been a better time to kick the habit.

Ms Gersbeck said that given smokers are at an increased risk of eye disease, health professionals should encourage their patients to have regular eye tests, even if they have not noticed a change in vision.

“As many eye conditions are asymptomatic in the early stages, having a regular eye test can detect eye problems as early as possible to treat and prevent further avoidable vision loss,” she said.

The new resource is available to downloaded at www.visioninitiative.org.au

ENDS

Media Contact

Louise Rudzki, Vision 2020 Australia, (03) 9656 2020, lrudzki@vision2020australia.org.au

About the Vision Initiative

For more information about the Vision Initiative program in Victoria, visit www.visioninitiative.org.au

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