There are many facts and statistics out there about how smoking can affect your health, but one that is often overlooked is that it can hurt your vision. Smoking is the most common preventable disease in the world, which is why there are so many campaigns out there aimed at helping people quit. Not only will quitting smoking lower your risk of heart and lung disease, but it can prevent eye problems.
Today we want to discuss some of the ways smoking affects your vision, hopefully providing you with the information and extra motivation necessary to quit. There are many reasons why smoking is bad for your eye health, namely because of all the harsh chemicals cigarettes contain.
How Smoke Impacts Your Vision
Whenever you inhale the smoke from a cigarette into your lungs, you don’t think about the fact that these toxic chemicals are also entering your body in other ways. Smoke can travel to any other part of the body, entering through the blood and tissue. One of the most vulnerable parts of the body to smoke are the eyes. While many people believe that only the cornea – a small part of the eye – is susceptible to smoke, this is not the case. The eye is comprised of tissue and fluid, and it is always working overtime to soak in oxygen and nutrients. If there is any pollution in the air, or if you are a smoker, your eyes are constantly being exposed to these harsh pollutants. So, the more you smoke, the worse it is for your eyes.
Over the years, we have learned that there are as many as 600 ingredients in cigarettes. The American Lung Association states that these ingredients result in more than 7,000 chemicals in the smoke. Some of the chemicals that are more dangerous – to our eyes and general health – include:
- Carbon monoxide
As you can see, many of these chemicals are extremely dangerous and can have a long-lasting impact on your health.
Common Eye Conditions Brought on By Smoking
Some of the most common eye conditions linked to smoking include:
- Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) – This is a common eye condition that affects the center of the retina, which is the part of the eye used for everyday tasks like reading and driving. Smoking has been linked to AMD, increasing a person’s chance of developing the disease from two to four times.
- Cataracts – While as many as half of all Americans will have cataracts by the age of 80, those who smoke are twice as likely to develop cataracts than nonsmokers.
- Dry eye syndrome – This condition usually does not cause permanent damage to the eyes, but it can be very annoying and uncomfortable.
- Diabetic retinopathy – Smokers are twice as likely to get diabetes, which could lead to diabetic retinopathy. This condition is the leading cause of blindness in adults between 25 and 74, and it cannot be reversed.
- Glaucoma – Another common eye disease, glaucoma occurs when the optic nerve in the eye is damaged, gradually leading to loss of vision. Those who smoke are at a much higher risk of developing glaucoma than nonsmokers.
To learn more about how smoking affects your vision, please contact our Roanoke optometrist today and schedule an appointment.