Smoking can cause Cataracts…and much more!
Cigarette smoke is the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature deaths across the world, harming nearly every organ in your system - including your eyes - and kicking the habit has never made more sense!
It’s a lesser known fact that cigarette smoke can be extremely harmful to your eyes, but they can really get in the way of great vision, even though you might not see it right now.
So what health risks does cigarette smoke pose to your eyes?
- Cataracts – This conditional where the eye’s natural lens gets clouded is one of the leading causes of blindness worldwide. People who smoke almost double their chance of contracting cataracts, and the more you smoke, the higher your risk.
- Macular Degeneration – This is a condition where the center of the retina gets affected (the retina by the way is responsible for sharp vision). AMD (age related macular degeneration) causes “blind spots” – often severely impairing vision – and smokers are three times as likely to develop this condition, compared to those who have never smoked.
- Uveitis – This condition is where the eye’s middle layer suffers from inflammation which can lead to total vision loss. Smoking appears to be linked to the development of Uveitis (in fact smokers double their risk for this condition by smoking a pack-a-day). This condition harms all the vital structures such as the iris and the retina.
- Diabetic Retinopathy – This condition causes damage to the blood vessels of the retina and cause total vision loss. Typically associated with diabetes, this condition is easily brought on by smoking and obviously smoking also almost doubles the risk of developing diabetes which in turn ups the risk factor of developing Diabetic Retinopathy.
- Dry Eyes – Dry Eye Syndrome is when your eyes produce an insufficient amount of tears in the eye’s surface, necessary to keep the eyes lubricated and healthy. Tabaco smoke being a known irritant to the eyes worsens this condition – even when you’re only being exposed to second hand smoke – and is often much worse for contact lens wearers. Although it might not be threatening to your vision, this is an irritating condition which can easily be avoided by NOT smoking.
- Infant Eye Disease – There are thousands of reasons why you aren’t supposed to smoke during pregnancy, and infant eye disease is another great one. Women who smoke during pregnancy transmit the dangerous toxins to the placenta, which can seriously affect the eyes of the fetus and cause diseases such as Strabismus (crossed eyes) and an undeveloped optic nerve (a leading cause to blindness in children).
The affects that smoking has and the health risk the pose to your eyes are plain to see, and yes these conditions are all very serious, but it’s not all bad news here. Remember that smoking is the biggest controllable risk factor to your health, and the good health of your eyes. Quitting smoking at any age, even at a later stage in life, significantly reduces your risk to contract these diseases. It’s never too late to quit.