Our eyesight is one of our most treasured senses. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 34.1 million adults in the United States currently smoke cigarettes. Smoking cigarettes can have several negative health effects, including increasing your risk of developing heart disease, stroke, and cancer. But did you know that smoking can also harm your eye health and vision? Additionally, your risk for eye diseases increases the longer that a person smokes. The best thing to do for your eye health and your overall health is to avoid nicotine altogether. And while we know that can be difficult for many people, the benefits speak for themselves.
Need more convincing? Here are a few common vision issues problems that are made worse by smoking:
Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)
This disease happens when a part of the retina is damaged. Studies show that smokers and ex-smokers are more likely to get AMD than people who have never smoked. While there is no cure for AMD, it can be treated with medications or laser therapy.
If you smoke, you are at increased risk of developing cataracts. A cataract is the clouding of your eye’s naturally clear lens, which causes blurry vision and makes colors look dull, faded, or yellowish. We treat cataracts by performing different varieties of cataract surgery including laser cataract surgery with intraocular lens (IOL) replacement.
Smokers who also have diabetes risk getting diabetic retinopathy, a condition that occurs when blood vessels in the eye are damaged. It causes blurry or distorted vision and can lead to permanent blindness over time if not treated. Potential treatments include medications or surgery.
This is a chronic condition that results from the eyes no longer producing enough moisture (tears). Smoking with dry eyes can make the eyes more likely to feel scratchy, sting, burn, or red.
Smoking can also lead to Uveitis, a disease that affects the middle layer of the eye wall known as the uvea. Uveitis causes eye redness, pain, and difficulty seeing. Potential treatment options include medications or surgery.
Ready to Quit?
Discussing these eye conditions can sound unnerving. However, the good news is that quitting smoking at any age and at any time can significantly reduce your risk of developing these issues. Breaking the habit of smoking and avoiding second-hand smoke is the best investment you can make in your long-term eye health. For more information or to book an eye care appointment with Dr. William Segal, and Dr. Marc Lay, please contact Georgia Eye Physicians & Surgeons today. You can also follow along with us on Facebook for more eye care tips, news, and much more.