How Smoking is Putting Your Eyes at Risk
It’s common knowledge that smoking is not good for you or your health. However, it doesn’t hurt to have another reason to quit or not start in the first place. Smoking can have very serious consequences for your eyes, so you should definitely stay away from cigarettes if you value your vision.
Cataracts refer to a buildup of protein within the eye which prevents light from passing through the optic lens. This can produce many different eye health problems such as blurry vision and sensitivity. Smokers have a higher chance of developing cataracts that can often result in surgery.
Age-related Macular Degeneration
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) refers to an eye condition that damages the macula, retinal area which allows for central, forward-facing vision. It is very common, representing one of the leading factors in vision loss for individuals over the age of 50. Smokers and ex-smokers are two times more likely to develop macular degeneration than those who have never smoked.
There are two types of AMD: atrophic and exudative. Atrophic AMD, also called dry AMD, is used to describe the gradual thinning of the retina. Exudative AMD, also called wet AMD, describes the growth of new blood vessels within the retina which lead to the leaking of blood and fluid. Although there is no known cure for atrophic AMD, there has been success with some treatments for exudative AMD, including laser surgery and photodynamic therapy.
For those with diabetes, smoking has been linked to the development of diabetic retinopathy. This condition involves damage to retinal blood vessels, which can result in severe vision loss or blindness. Abnormal blood vessels may develop, leaking fluids into the eye which can blur vision. Blood may also leak into the macula, causing it to swell and cause blurry eyesight. In its early stages, retinopathy can be treated if an individual with diabetes controls their blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels.
Smoking can also serve as an irritant for the eyes, reducing their ability to provide enough lubrication to avoid discomfort. Dry eye is usually characterized by an itchy, stinging, or burning feeling within the eyes.
Are you a smoker? Have concerns about your eye health? Contact us, we would love to help!