A new study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that, while progress is being made, smoking and tobacco use remains a concern for the health of millions of Americans. Smoking causes itchy, watery eyes, which can be a nuisance, but more importantly, smoking escalates the risk for vision-threatening eye diseases such as cataracts and macular degeneration.
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, smoking tobacco (cigarettes, cigars, or pipes) can cause lung disease, heart disease, cancer, and many other serious health problems. But did you know that smoking can also harm your eyes?
The American Academy of Ophthalmology listed a few eye problems that are caused by smoking:
Dry eye is when your eyes do not have enough—or the right kind of—tears. Smoking with dry Eye will make your eyes more likely to feel scratchy, sting, burn, or be red.
If you smoke, you are at increased risk of getting cataracts. A cataract is clouding of your Eye’s naturally clear lens. It causes blurry vision and makes colors look dull, faded, or yellowish.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)
AMD happens when a part of the retina called the macula is damaged. You lose your central vision and cannot see fine details. But your peripheral (side) vision stays normal. Sometimes medicine or surgery can help certain people with AMD from getting worse, but there is no cure. Studies show that smokers and ex-smokers are more likely to get AMD than people who never smoked.
Smokers who also have diabetes risk getting diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy is when blood vessels in the Eye are damaged. It causes blurry or distorted vision and possibly blindness. Treatment includes medication or surgery.
Optic Nerve Problems
People who smoke risk having optic nerve problems. The optic nerve connects the eye to the brain. Damage to this nerve can lead to blindness.
Smoking can increase risk factors, which can lead to glaucoma – a disease that affects the optic nerve.
Smoking can lead to a disease that affects the part of the eye called the uvea. This is the middle layer of the eye wall. Uveitis is when this layer becomes inflamed (red and swollen). This disease causes red-eye, pain, and vision problems.
This is a disease of the body’s thyroid gland. One of the symptoms of Graves’ disease is bulging eyes. Smokers who have Graves’ disease risk having their eye condition get worse. They can also lose vision.
Toddlers and children are at risk from secondhand smoke—a new study suggests children as young as six years old already show signs of eye damage due to secondhand smoke.
Are you trying to quit?
The American Cancer Society has helpful tips. The good news is that quitting smoking has immediate results on your health, and it’s never too late to stop! Once you break the habit, your body will begin to try and repair itself.
We are dedicated to making sure you can see clearly!
Source: American Academy of Ophthalmology