Eye Care
How Smoking Harms Your Eyes

How Smoking Harms Your Eyes

Smoking is the leading preventable cause of premature death and disease in the United States. It can damage almost every organ of your body, including your eyes.

While the adverse health effects of smoking cigarettes such as cancer and heart disease are well-known, sight-threatening vision problems and other eye problems are generally less well-known.

Here are some more reasons to quit smoking:

Cataracts and Smoking

Cataracts, which are clouding of the natural lens of the eyes, are the leading cause of blindness worldwide. Over 50 percent of Americans will be diagnosed with a cataract by the age of 80.

As compared to non-smokers, smokers have a significantly higher chance of developing cataracts. Studies show that smokers have a double chance of developing cataracts. The risk increases the more you smoke.

Smoking And Macular Degeneration

Age-related macular disease (AMD), which affects the central retina, is responsible for sharp, central vision necessary for daily tasks like reading and driving and preventing AMD from progressing to the edges of the retina.

Macular degeneration can cause “blind spots” that often severely impair central vision. AMD is the most common cause of permanent vision impairment in Americans 65 years and older.

Research shows that smokers have an threefold increase in their risk of developing AMD than people who have not smoked. Female smokers aged 80 and older are 5.5% more likely to develop AMD compared with non-smokers the same age.

It’s not all bad news. Because smoking is the most controllable risk factor for AMD, quitting smoking any age, even later in your life, can dramatically reduce your chance of developing AMD.

Smoking And Uveitis

Uveitis, also known as inflammation of the middle layer of the eye, can cause vision loss.

It can cause damage to vital structures in the eye such as the retina and iris, which can then lead to complications like cataracts, glaucoma, and retinal detachment.

There is evidence that smokers are more likely to develop uveitis than those who don’t smoke, and there has been some research linking smoking to uveitis. A study showed that smoking is associated with a 2.2-fold higher than the normal risk for developing the condition.

Diabetic Retinopathy and Smoking

Diabetic Retinopathy can cause vision loss by affecting the blood vessels in the retina.

Over 5 million Americans over 40 have diabetes retinopathy, either type 1 or 2. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that number will rise to 16 million in 2050.

Smoking can double your risk of developing diabetes.

Smoking is also linked to the development and progression diabetes retinopathy.

Dry and Smoking Eyes

Smokers have a four-fold higher chance of becoming blind in old age.

Dry eye syndrome refers to insufficient tears at the surface of the eyes, which are necessary for keeping the eye healthy and lubricated. Dry eye syndrome can cause eye redness, itching, “foreign body” sensations, and even watery vision.

Tobacco smoke, especially for contact lens wearers, is known to cause dry eyes and irritation. Smokers are almost twice as likely as non-smokers to develop dry eyes.

Smoking and Infant Eye Disease

Smoking during pregnancy can cause serious toxicity to the placenta and possibly harm the unborn baby. The risk of developing serious health issues, such as fetal or infant eye disorders, increases if you smoke while pregnant.

These include strabismus, or crossing of the eyes, and underdevelopment of the optic nervous . This is a leading reason for blindness in children.

Women who smoke during pregnancy are more likely than others to give birth early. All babies born prematurely have a greater chance of developing eye problems than full-term children.

Premature babies can have vision problems due to retinopathy, which is a potentially blinding condition.

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