Wise Eyes Optical

Smoking and Your Eye Health

Smoking tobacco is a well-known risk factor for many health issues, including lung cancer and heart disease. But did you know that smoking can also have a significant impact on your eye health? From increased risk of cataracts and macular degeneration to dry eye syndrome, smoking poses serious threats to the well-being of your eyes. It’s time to take a closer look at the connection between smoking and eye health, and why quitting this harmful habit is crucial for maintaining optimal vision.

Tobacco smoke is made up of toxins that can not only damage your health and irritate your eyes but have been shown to cause lesions in the area of the brain that processes vision.

Smoking can cause short-term eye problems, including:

• Eye irritation, redness, itching and dryness. Smokers are more likely than non-smokers to have dry eyes.
• Eye pain (especially when you wake up in the morning), blurred vision and watering eyes.

Smoking increases the possibility of developing many types of health issues, including conditions and diseases that may affect your vision. If you are a smoker or live with someone who smokes, your eye health may be at risk.

Some Diseases and Conditions Related to Smoking include:

Macular Degeneration, or Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) – AMD is a condition that severely impairs central vision, making it difficult or impossible to read, drive and recognize faces and colors.
There are two forms of AMD: dry AMD and wet AMD. Macular degeneration generally begins in the dry form caused by cell deterioration, and can progress to the more advanced wet form, caused by leaking blood vessels, where vision loss can be very rapid if left untreated. Smoking causes your retinal blood vessels to constrict, which can increase your blood pressure and your risk of permanent vision loss from both the wet and dry forms of AMD. Those who smoke are twice as likely to develop AMD compared with people who do not smoke.

Glaucoma – Smoking increases the risk for glaucoma, which is a group of diseases that damage the optic nerve and cause vision loss. Smoking can also make it harder for you to see in dim light, which can affect your ability to drive at night or in foggy weather. If you have glaucoma and quit smoking, quitting may help slow down further vision loss caused by this condition.

Cataracts – Smoking can double your risk of developing cataracts at an earlier age. Cataracts, one of the leading causes of vision loss, occur when the eye’s naturally transparent lens becomes cloudy. The eye condition can cause blurred vision, halos around lights, glare, poor night vision, and faded colors. Smoking causes oxidative stress and reduces the amount of oxygen that reaches the eye. This leads to inflammation, which can cause cataracts to develop faster than normal.

Diabetic Retinopathy – Smoking increases your risk of diabetes by up to 40 percent— increasing your risk of diabetic retinopathy as well. This condition damages the tiny blood vessels in your retina, the layer of the light-sensing cells at the back of your eye causing them to leak blood and fluid into the eye— leading to partial or total vision loss.

Uveitis – Smoking can lead to a disease that affects part of the eye called the uvea, the middle layer of the eye wall. Uveitis occurs when this layer becomes inflamed (red and swollen), causing a red eye, floaters, pain and vision problems. Smoking more than doubles your risk of developing uveitis.

Thyroid Eye Disease (TED) also known as Grave’s Disease – Smokers are more likely to get TED and may not respond to treatment as well as non-smokers. TED is a disease of the body’s thyroid gland that causes bulging eyes, redness, pain, and dry eye. If the disease is not treated promptly, swelling may damage the optic nerve.

You Don’t Have to Be a Smoker to Experience Eye Health Issues.

Smoking While Pregnant – If you smoke while pregnant, your baby is five times more likely to get bacterial meningitis as a child. Meningitis causes tissues around the brain to swell and can cause eye infections and other vision problems. Smoking during pregnancy increases your risk of giving birth too early. Premature birth can lead to a serious eye problem called “retinopathy of prematurity.” The baby may have permanent vision loss or blindness.
Toddlers and children are also at risk from secondhand smoke. Studies suggest children as young as six years old already show signs of eye damage.

Secondhand Smoke – Secondhand smoke has been shown to be just as harmful as actually smoking for your eye health and vision. Exposure to secondhand smoke may increase your likelihood of developing dry eye, AMD, and other eye conditions and diseases.

Vaping – While vaping may not produce noxious smoke, it is not any safer for your eyes than smoking cigarettes or cigars. Vaping can dry the eyes and may increase your risk of developing macular degeneration. In addition to nicotine, the chemicals used to flavor e-cigarettes may also cause eye issues.

Quitting smoking is not only beneficial for overall health but also crucial for maintaining good eye health. If you are a smoker, consider taking steps towards quitting to protect your vision and reduce your risk of developing sight-threatening conditions:

• Maintain a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise.
• Aim for normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
• Eat a healthy diet rich in antioxidants, such as fruits and vegetables.
• Wear proper eye protection, such as sunglasses that block out harmful UV rays and a hat with a brim to protect your eyes from sunlight. Consider protecting your eyes with a pair of great sunglasses form Wise Eyes Optical.
• Get Regular eye exams which are crucial for early detection and treatment of any smoking-related eye conditions.
• Seek professional help in quitting smoking to protect your vision and maintain good eye health.

By prioritizing your eye health and making the necessary lifestyle changes, you can significantly reduce the impact of smoking on your vision and ensure a brighter future for your eyesight. We recommended that you consult with an eye care professional for further guidance on how quitting smoking can benefit your specific eye health needs. Call today to schedule an appointment with the professionals at Wise Eyes Optical.

Quitting smoking can be extremely difficult, but your eyes and vision will thank you for a lifetime.

If you are a smoker, live or work with a smoker, or have smoked in the past, yearly eye examinations are particularly important. The professionals at Wise Eyes Optical work closely with our patients to help them stay on top of their eye health. Schedule your next eye exam today by calling us at (717) 242-1915.

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Your local Wise Eyes Optical hometown vision center is here to help you achieve the best possible vision for life. We offer expert eye and vision care including eye-related medical care, custom fitting of eyeglasses and contacts, eyeglass repair, and much more. If you have questions or would like to learn more, reach out to your nearest Central Pennsylvania Wise Eyes Optical office. For assistance, call (717) 242-1915.

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