Countless studies have long warned us about smoking. It’s known to cause lung cancer and heart disease. It is even tagged as the number one preventable cause of death in the US. It affects almost every inch of your body. And your eyes is no different.
Unfortunately, eye problems and vision loss associated with smoking are generally less known. Maybe most people won’t expect that smoking can lead to blindness or vision loss. But numerous studies now suggest that smoking increases your risk of cataracts, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, dry eye syndrome, and diabetic retinopathy.
Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)
Age-related macular degeneration affects the center of your retina, which controls your central vision required for everyday tasks like driving and reading.
This condition creates “blind spots” and a lot of times it severely impairs the central vision. In the US, AMD is among the leading causes of permanent vision loss in older people ages 65 and above.
Smoking increases your risk of AMD by 3 times compared to people who never smoked. By the age of 80 and above, female smokers are more than 5 times at risk of developing AMD than their non-smokers counterparts. And people living with smokers are two times at risk of this condition.
The good news is, quitting smoking now, can significantly lessen your risk of AMD.
People smoking 15 cigarettes a day or more are 3 times more at risk of developing cataract than their non-smoking counterparts.
This condition is characterized by the clouding of the lens of your eyes, which are naturally clear. Cataracts usually worsens as you get older. Most cataract cases are associated to aging. This condition is very much common among older people.
This eye condition causes a slow degeneration of the cells that compose the nerves in your eyes that are responsible in sending visual information to the brain. As your nerve cells die, your vision is gradually lost, usually starts with your side vision. The deterioration of vision is often unnoticeable until a considerable amount of your nerves has been damaged.
Dry Eye Syndrome
Smokers are twice more at risk of dry eye syndrome than non-smokers. This condition is characterized by the lack of tears on the eye’s surface. The tears keep your eyes healthy and well lubricated. Insufficient tears on the eye’s surface can cause itchiness, redness, and even watery eyes.
Cigarette smoke is a known to cause irritation and worsen dryness of the eyes.
Smoking and Infant Eye Disease
Smoking during pregnancy can cause several health problems both to the mother and the unborn child. Harmful chemicals and compounds are transmitted from the mother to her baby harming the unborn child. Smoking increases the risk of infant eye disorders. These include crossed eyes and premature development of the optic nerve.
Similarly, women who smoke during their pregnancy are more at risk of prematurely giving birth to their babies. Babies born too early are at higher risk of eye conditions than full term babies.
If you want to lessen your risks of developing these eye conditions, quitting smoking now will be a good start. Quitting smoking at any stage, significantly lessen your health risks. Consult your doctor now and know your choices.