The negative effects of smoking have been well documented, especially around lung cancer, premature aging, and other diseases. But less well known are the effects of smoking and specifically its impact on your eyes and eye health. Even though it may not be common knowledge, smoking can cause serious – and even irreversible – damage to your eyes. So if you’ve been thinking about kicking your habit to the curb, here are a few more reasons to do so.
Macular Degeneration and Blindness
To most people, losing their vision is one of the scariest thoughts in the world. And while many people mistakenly think blindness is rare, the reality is that around 1.3 million people (in the U.S. alone) suffer from a complete loss of vision. And it’s been proven that smoking and vision loss go hand in hand. On the upside, there’s a lot you can do to prevent falling prey to this fate yourself – including quitting smoking.
In fact, doing away with tobacco use is the best way to prevent age-related macular degeneration, which is a disease that can lead to blindness. This disease occurs when an area near the center of the retina, responsible for central vision, is damaged. People who smoke are four times more likely to develop age-related macular degeneration, compared to nonsmokers, and could develop it as much as 10 years earlier than their nonsmoking counterparts.
The forming of cataracts is usually associated with old age, but it’s also linked to the effects of smoking. Cataracts are a clouding of the eye’s lens, causing blurry vision and often leading to blindness. As with macular degeneration, smoking and vision loss are connected.
Smokers have double the risk of developing cataracts versus nonsmokers. Adding insult to injury, the risk of cataracts is also amplified the more often you smoke. So, once again, the best way to prevent cataracts is to stop smoking altogether.
The looming thought of developing a damaging disease or even going blind can be frightening. While they can be serious these aren’t the only potential side effects of smoking. Lighting up can also create problems for your eyes on a daily basis. The smoke itself irritates eyes and can cause them to become dry and itchy. That’s the opposite of the eye’s natural state!
People who smoke are about two times as likely, compared to those who don’t, to suffer from dry eyes. There are solutions like lubricating eye drops available, but as long as the eye is being exposed to tobacco smoke on a regular basis, the dry eye condition will likely not go away.
If you or a loved one has been considering quitting smoking, there’s no better time than now. Set yourself up for a lifetime of healthy eyes and excellent vision, not the pain and suffering that comes as a result of the negative effects of smoking. Contact us if you’d like an eye exam, or to learn more about how to improve your eyesight and eye health.