Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few decades, you know about the link between smoking and lung cancer, heart disease, and many other diseases. But did you know smoking has also been associated with several vision and eye conditions?
Cataracts, a clouding of the lens of the eye, are a common cause of blindness (in the USA, about half of all people by the age of 75 have cataracts). The more you smoke, the greater your chances of developing cataracts.
Pregnant women who smoke can harm their unborn babies. One of the negative health effects is an increased chance the baby will have an underdeveloped optic nerve, which is one of the leading causes of blindness in children.
Healthy eyes need a steady supply of tears to keep the eye well lubricated. Smoke irritates the eyes and can make dry eyes much worse, causing itchiness, irritation, and redness. For some, it can feel like there’s something in the eye, which can lead to a desire to rub them (don’t be tempted to give in – rubbing will just make things worse). Dry eyes can be the result of several causes, but smokers are twice as likely to develop the condition as non-smokers.
Macular degeneration is a condition that impacts the center of the retina, the area at the back of the eye where images are focused. Damage to this area can make it difficult to function normally due to blind spots. In older American adults, macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss. Women are at a Smokers are at particular risk with women over age 80 who smoke more than five times as likely as non-smokers of the same age to develop the condition.
Diabetes can damage the fine blood vessels in the body. Kidneys and eyes are vulnerable to damage caused by diabetes. If the tiny blood vessels in the retina are damaged, partial or complete blindness may result. The number of people in the USA affected by either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes continues to grow, as does the incidence of diabetic retinopathy. Diabetes is more common in smokers than non-smokers and there’s also a link between smoking and an increased incidence of diabetic retinopathy.
If you didn’t need a reason to quit smoking before now, consider what your life would be like if you suffered from partial or complete vision loss. For more information about vision care, visit the 39DollarsGlasses website.