How Smoking Affects Your Vision

Smoking is bad for you. Yes, I know, you’ve heard it all before. All those warnings about how smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer and heart disease. How even second hand smoke can have a negative effect on your health. But just in case you haven’t received enough reasons to kick the habit yet, here is one more. Did you know that smoking can also affect your eyesight?

Smoking and Cataracts

Your eye’s lens is normally clear, allowing you to see the world around you. Cataracts cause the lens to cloud over, causing severely blurred vision. Cataracts are an age related condition which will affect approximately 50 percent of people by age 80, and is the world’s leading cause of blindness. Smoking can double or even triple your chance of developing cataracts and the risk is increased by the amount you smoke. The risk is even higher among women smokers.

Smoking and Age Related Macular Degeneration

Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) affects the central vision, causing “blind spots”, and making it difficult to read, drive or do other everyday tasks that involve seeing fine details. This vision loss will slowly increase over time. Smokers have a two to four time’s greater chance of developing AMD, depending on the amount you smoke. Once again the risk is greater among female smokers.

Smoking and Diabetic Retinopathy

You may already be aware that smoking increases your chance of getting diabetes. It also makes diabetes more difficult to control and increases your risk of getting diabetes related conditions. One of these conditions is Diabetic Retinopathy, a condition that damages the blood vessels sending oxygen to the retina. Diabetic Retinopathy is common in people with Type One and Type Two Diabetes and can cause vision loss. The risk of this condition and its progress are significantly increased by smoking.

Glaucoma is another diabetes related, sight threatening, condition that is greatly increased by smoking. Glaucoma causes the cells of your optic nerve to break down, first affecting your peripheral vision, but continuing until it eventually causes total blindness.

Smoking and Uveitis

Uveitis is an inflammation of the Uvea, a layer of tissue in the middle layer of the eye, which blocks the blood flow and can result in complete vision loss. Smokers are much more likely to develop this condition than non-smokers.

Smoking and Dry Eye Syndrome

Dry Eye Syndrome occurs when blood vessels in the eye are damaged, causing insufficient tears coming to the eye’s surface. This causes red, itchy eyes and potential burning sensations. Smoking exacerbates this condition by acting as a drying agent and keeping the eyes from receiving the required moisture. This can even be caused by second hand smoke, so it is not only the smoker who is affected, although smokers are twice as likely to have dry eye syndrome as non-smokers.

On a Positive Note for Your Vision

The one positive thing to add is that this does not have to be your future. With all the health risks involved with smoking, the best thing you can do for your health is quit. If you can’t do it yourself, see your doctor to get help. Whatever you do, you deserve to have the best physical and eye health as you can. Take the first step today.