Smoking is the highest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the United States. Every year, one of every five deaths is related to smoking. While we all can understand that smoking is incredibly damaging to the lungs, many people don’t realize the harm it can have on the eyes.
Those who smoke can develop serious eye conditions that can cause blindness. Our team at Clearview Eye & Laser want to inform you of the dangerous connection between smoking and your vision health.
Harmful Effects of Smoke on the Eyes
The eye is made of tissue and fluid, constantly absorbing oxygen and nutrients as you blink. If there is pollution or smoke or in the air, such as from a cigarette or fire, it can have a serious affect on your eyes. Cigarette smoke contains 4,000 different chemicals. Most of them are toxic to you. The more that you smoke, the more you put your eyes at risk.
Link Between Cataracts and Smoking
The most common cause of cataracts is age-related. Typically, individuals over 74 are prone to having significant cataracts. If you have a cataract, your eye’s natural lens will become cloudy. Things will look blurry, hazy or even less colorful.
Smokers significantly increase their risk of developing cataracts. Individuals who smoke 20 or more cigarettes a day have twice the risk than nonsmokers for developing cataracts.
Early stages of cataract could improve with new eyeglasses or magnifying lenses. When that doesn’t help, you may need surgery. During surgery, an eye surgeon will remove the cloudy lens and replace it with an artificial lens. Without surgery, cataracts can lead to serious vision loss. The best way to protect your sight from damage linked to smoking is to quit or never pick up the habit in the first place.
Risk of AMD from Smoking
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause for vision loss among people age 50 and older. AMD is a common eye condition that causes damage to the macula. The macula is the part of the eye needed for sharp, central vision.
Symptoms of AMD include:
- Blurred vision
- The need for more light to read or do other tasks
- Straight lines appear wavy
- You have trouble recognizing faces
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the primary risk factors for advancing AMD include increasing age, ethnicity and genetic factors. However, cigarette smoking is the main modifiable factor. Research had proven that smokers are up to four times more likely to develop AMD. Since smoking is a controllable risk factor associated with AMD, quitting smoking at any age can significantly reduce your risk of developing the disease.
Seattle & Burien’s Clearview Eye & Laser
It’s never too late to quit smoking and enjoy a healthier lifestyle. Those who quit smoking will lessen their risk for upcoming health issues. One of the safest things that you can do for your vision is to never start smoking in the first place. Your Seattle eye care doctors at Clearview Eye & Laser can recommend methods to help you towards a smoke-free life, with healthy vision! Call us at (206) 431-9600 or schedule an appointment today.