Smoking cigarettes not only can lead to heart and lung disease, but it can also steal your sight. Smokers are four times more likely to lose their vision than their non-smoker counterparts and are more likely to develop eye-related illnesses. Luckily, like with most smoking-related illnesses, the negative aspects of these diseases can be reversed or slowed with smoking cessation.
Smokers are twice as likely as non-smokers to develop dry eyes. Not only are dry eyes uncomfortable, but they also make wearing contacts much more difficult. For some people with dry eyes, their eyes are so uncomfortable that contact lenses are not an option.
Sufferers of dry eyes can expect to feel a constant itchy, scratchy sensation in their eyes. Many would describe it as having a piece of sand under their eyelid. While there may be treatments available for dry eyes, the most effective option for smokers would be to stop smoking as soon as possible.
Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Age related macular degeneration, or AMD, is a common disease that occurs in seniors. Being a smoker makes you twice as likely to develop AMD and at an earlier age. Symptoms of AMD often appear first with blurriness in the center of your vision, then slowly become more pronounced as the degeneration continues. AMD can eventually lead to complete vision loss and is irreversible.
Fortunately, AMD can be slowed if a smoker chooses to quit before symptoms appear or shortly after. There are no warning signs for AMD, the only way to check is with a thorough eye exam which includes dilation.
Other vision issues associated with smoking
Smoking is the source of many issues in the human body. Unfortunately, the problems common to the eyes are often forgotten for more immediate concerns. The eyes are a delicate piece of the body and are affected by many variables including smoking. On top of dry eyes and AMD, smokers are more likely to develop cataracts earlier in life. They are also more than twice as likely to develop uveitis, a detrimental disease which attacks the middle of your eye.
Lastly, smoking doubles your chances of developing diabetes. Diabetics are at unique risk for eye damage as they are susceptible to diabetic retinopathy which slowly destroys the blood vessels in the retina.
Most people recognize that smoking is dangerous, but very few realize exactly how far the damage goes in the human body. Fortunately, most issues caused by smoking can also be lessened or completely resolved by quitting.
If you smoke, and are ready to quit, visit smokefree.gov for resources on how to quit.