Eye doctors want to help patients quit smoking, but feel ill equipped to do so, according to a recent survey conducted by a University of Miami research team.

About 50 eye care professionals from the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute responded to the survey. Two-thirds of them said they want additional smoking cessation training and resources to support patient quit attempts. The majority indicated that they seldom or periodically asked about their patients’ smoking status, assessed their willingness to quit and advised them to quit smoking.

When asked to identify which smoking cessation training or information they would like to use, 46% wanted training on how to select self-help materials to give their patients and 39% wanted to learn how to provide social support to their patients as part of cessation treatment. Most respondents indicated that their medical education did not provide adequate training to effectively offer smoking cessation assistance to their patients (65%).

The team also surveyed a number of patients with age-related macular degeneration who were visiting a Bascom retinal clinic, and found that most of them were unaware of the link between smoking and eye disease. Nearly 90% of those who smoked reported never being advised to quit by their eye care provider, although two-thirds reported that they were seriously considering quitting smoking in the next six months.

Calban-Martinez AJ, Davila EP, Lam BL, et al. Age-related macular degeneration and smoking cessation advice by eye care providers: a pilot study. Prev Chronic Dis. 2011;8(6):A147. 

How to Help Patients Butt Out
Want to learn how to help patients kick the habit? The Association for the Treatment of Tobacco Use and Dependence lists training programs and continuing education to become a tobacco treatment specialist, and also provides access to materials that can help you help your patients: www.attud.org.