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Teenager's eyesight affected by smoking

A TEENAGER who has smoked 10 cigarettes each day has quit - because her constant coughing caused the blood vessels in her eyes to burst.

Rachel Elder, aged 15, developed a hacking cough last December and has been diagnosed as having suspected asthma.

She was rushed to the Royal Bolton Hospital with the burst blood vessels in January.

Top eye doctor Simon Kelly said the problems suffered by Rachel, who attends St Mary's High School in Astley and lives in Eden Vale, Worsley, was likely to have been caused by smoking.

Rachel, who takes her GCSEs this year, said: "It's very hard to give up smoking, but I did it as soon as I was told it could have caused the problems with my eyes and that I might have asthma. I'm so upset, I can't believe I've done this through smoking."

Her mum, Joyce, added: "I'm just grateful that this has been spotted early and I'm proud of her for giving up smoking."

Simon Kelly, a consultant ophthalmologist in the eye unit at the Royal Bolton Hospital, has carried out a survey of teenage clubbers and has discovered they are more afraid of losing their sight than lung cancer.

The survey carried out by a team of specialists, using teenagers between 16 and 18, in clubs in Manchester, Bournemouth and Winchester, revealed 81 per cent of the young people involved in the research were aware that smoking caused lung cancer, 27 per cent knew it caused heart disease, and 15 per cent knew it could cause a stroke. But just five per cent knew it could cause blindness.

Mr Kelly said: "Our study of teenagers confirms that there is little awareness of the hazards to their eyesight of smoking, but that fear of blindness is a compelling reason to quit.

Mr Kelly, the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB), which released the study, and Action for Smoking and Health (ASH), are now calling for the link between smoking and blindness to be advertised on cigarette packets.

Avril Chang, campaign director for North-west ASH, said: "These important findings from teenage clubbers need to be translated into a national advertising campaign to warn young people of the link between smoking and blindness, therefore we will be supporting the campaign to call on the Government to fund this."

 

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