Smokers or non-smokers, everyone is well aware of the harmful effects of smoking on our health. It contributes to some of the major and most fatal health problems like heart diseases and lung cancer. What most people do not know is that it also affects our eyes and vision. The chemicals and gases present in cigarette smoke can gravely damage your eyesight. Some of the eye diseases linked to smoking are;
- Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)
Aga Related Macular Degeneration is a condition in which the center of your retina is affected and because of that, you start losing your central vision. This means that it becomes difficult for you to focus on small details and perform everyday tasks like reading or driving.
There are two types of AMD; wet and dry. Although Dry AMD is more common than Wet AMD but the latter causes more damage to your vision.
AMD is the main cause of blindness among middle-aged and older Americans and smoking plays a huge role in it. Studies show that the risk of AMD is 3 to 4 times greater in smokers as compared to nonsmokers.
As we get older the clear lens of our eyes starts getting cloudy and this is known as Cataract. It is one of the leading cause of vision loss in the world, along with ADM. By the time they reach the age of 80, 50% of Americans either already have had a surgery cataract or start showing the symptoms. These risks are further increased through smoking. People who smoke a minimum of 15 cigarettes a day (heavy smokers) are three times more likely to have cataracts.
Slow break down of nerve cells is known is Glaucoma. These nerve cells make up the optic nerve which acts as a bridge between the retina and the brain. It sends electrical impulses, which are carrying visual information, to the brain. With the slow death of your nerve cells, you start losing your vision and before you even realize the majority of nerve damage has already been done.
Major risk factors are high blood pressure, diabetes, and cataracts. All of which are strongly linked to smoking.
- Diabetic Retinopathy
Diabetic retinopathy is a common and much-complicated form of diabetes. It damages the blood vessels of your retina by either breaking them, blocking them, or causing a leakage.
Smoking already increases the risk of diabetes two times and if not stopped can further lead to diabetes complications such as Diabetic Retinopathy.
- Dry Eye Syndrome
Our eyes naturally produce tears to keep themselves lubricated and hence healthy. Insufficient production of these tears is known as Dry Eye Syndrome and can cause redness and irritation in the eyes along with watery eyes.
This syndrome gets worse in the presence of cigarette smoke, especially if you are wearing contacts as well. According to studies, smokers are twice more likely to suffer through dry eye syndrome as compared to nonsmokers.
It is never too late to leave a harmful habit and move towards a healthier and better lifestyle. No matter what age you are, quitting smoking can drastically decrease your chances of developing these harmful diseases.