Did you know that smoking is the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the United States? Most people are aware that smoking can have an enormous impact on lung health but might be surprised to learn that smoking harms nearly every organ in the body – including the eyes! So if you needed yet another reason to quit smoking, explore the relationship between smoking and eyesight below.
Smoking and Eyesight
The fact that cigarette smoking can cause lung cancer and heart disease is heavily publicized, but we think more people should be talking about how smoking can threaten your eye health and vision. From cataracts and macular degeneration to uveitis and dry eyes, smoking can increase your risk of developing a variety of severe eye conditions.
Smokers are twice as likely to develop cataracts, a condition in which the lens of the eye becomes more and more opaque over time, resulting in blurred vision. The more you smoke, the greater your risk. Just because cataracts are common (over half of Americans will have a cataract or will have undergone cataract surgery by age 80), that doesn’t mean they aren’t concerning. In fact, they’re one of the leading causes of blindness.
Smokers are three times as likely as non-smokers to develop age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a condition that impacts the center of the retina, reducing sharp central vision and causing blind spots. AMD can impact a person’s ability to complete common, everyday tasks like reading, driving, recognizing faces and colors, and even seeing details. Fortunately, quitting smoking significantly reduces your risk of developing this condition.
Smoking has been linked with the development of uveitis, which is the inflammation of the eye’s middle layer (also known as the uvea). If this condition progresses, it can harm the iris and retina and cause cataracts, glaucoma, or retinal detachment. Serious cases can lead to complete vision loss.
Because smoking may double a person’s risk of developing diabetes, it also increases the risk of diabetic retinopathy. Characterized by damaged blood vessels in the retina, this condition can also result in vision loss. Over 5 million Americans over the age of 40 have contracted diabetic retinopathy due to diabetes.
If your eyes don’t have enough tears (or the right kind of tears), you’ll suffer from dry eyes. Dry eyes vary greatly in severity, but if you suffer from dry eye syndrome, you know that insufficient tears can leave your eyes red, itchy, and irritated. You may feel as though there’s something in your eye (a “foreign body” sensation) or even experience watery eyes. Smokers are almost twice as likely to have dry eyes, and secondhand smoke can also aggravate dry eyes.
When’s the last time you had your eyes checked? Knowing how smoking and eyesight are related, you may wish to have your vision and eye health evaluated if you’ve recently quit smoking. And if you’re still smoking, consider talking to your doctor about quitting to preserve your health.
If you live in southwest Missouri, contact Heffington’s. Since 1975, the Heffington family has been assisting the Springfield community with top-quality eye care and affordable eyeglasses and contacts. One of the unique features of our family-owned business is that we manufacture lenses at our own laboratory, giving us total control over the service and pricing, and we’re happy to pass our savings on to you. To learn more about our products and services, please get in touch with us online, send an email to [email protected], or give us a call at 417-869-3937 (Optiland location) or 417-882-3937 (House of Vision location). We look forward to hearing from you!