These days, it’s common knowledge that smoking is a significant contributor to major health problems including heart disease, strokes, and cancer. What is less recognized is how much cigarette smoking can negatively affect a person’s eyes, as well.
How Does Cigarette Smoking Affect Eye Health?
Smoking causes inflammation, delayed healing, and impaired physiological functioning within every major organ in the body. Common eye problems that have been linked to smoking include:
- Cataracts: People who smoke are twice as likely to develop cataracts–clouding of the lenses–compared to non-smokers.
- Macular Degeneration: Research shows that people who smoke are three times as likely to develop age-related macular degeneration, a condition involving the breakdown of the image-gathering tissue known as the retina.
- Dry Eyes: Tobacco smoke is one of the most prominent environmental toxins and is a major irritant to eyes. Exposure to tobacco smoke can impair the body’s ability to produce sufficient tears, which are necessary for proper lubrication and health. Symptoms of dry eye include dry, itchy, red, and, paradoxically, sometimes watery eyes.
Smoking also increases the risk of diabetes, which can damage the delicate blood vessels of the retina. This complication, known as diabetic retinopathy, tends to progress more quickly and more severely in people who smoke.
Sadly, the risks of smoking don’t fall only on the person lighting up: second-hand smoke can cause dry eyes, and smoking while pregnant can cause vision loss in children.
How Can I Protect My Vision and Eye Health?
When it comes to protecting your eyes, the most important thing you can do is quit smoking. It’s never too late to stop–and if you don’t smoke, don’t start.
It’s also important to get a regular eye exam from an optometrist to ensure that your eyes are healthy.
Worried about your vision? Schedule your next eye exam with our Paoli optometrist
Learn more or schedule your next eye exam, call 610 647-2502.