Smoking has been linked to major health problems, including heart disease, lung disease, stroke, and cancer, but most people aren’t aware that smoking affects vision. Studies show that smoking increases the risk for the development of cataracts, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, diabetic and premature retinopathy, dry eyes and can lead to vision loss or blindness.
Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Smokers are three to four times more likely to develop age-related macular degeneration, a medical condition which can result in blurred or loss of vision at the center of the visual field. Nonsmokers exposed to smoke are at double the risk of developing macular degeneration.
Retinopathy of Prematurity
Women who smoke while pregnant are more likely to give birth prematurely, putting infants at a higher risk for developing retinopathy of prematurity, a potentially blinding disease.
Heavy smokers are three times more likely to develop cataracts, a clouding of the lens in the eye that affects vision, than non-smokers.
Eye conditions that damage the optic nerve are directly linked to smoking, high blood pressure, cataracts, and diabetes. All of which are risk factors in the development of glaucoma.
Smoking increases your chance of developing diabetes. It is the most common cause of vision loss among people with diabetes and the leading cause of blindness among adults.
Dry Eye Syndrome
Dry eyes syndrome is caused by a chronic lack of lubrication and moisture on the eye surface, which can cause irritation, inflammation and even scarring of the eye. Dry eyes syndrome is twice as likely to develop in smokers than non-smokers.
Preventing Vision Loss
Of course, the more you smoke, the higher your risk, however, it’s not too late. If you quit smoking, you can reduce the risk of developing certain eye diseases to that of someone that has never smoked.
Are you a smoker? Have you been exposed through secondhand smoke? To learn more about the risks cigarettes pose to your overall eye health contact an ophthalmologist to discuss risk factors and treatment options. To learn more, and to schedule an appointment, contact us online or call us at 772-257-8700 today.