One puff of a cigarette and thousands of chemicals enter the bloodstream and migrates all over the human body. Eyes are no exception. The chemicals found in cigarette smoke are especially harmful to the most sensitive part of the retina, at the back of your eye, known as the macula. Tiny blood vessels constricted by the body’s reaction to smoking can burst and irreversibly damage the macula or cause its cells slowly die. Both ultimately lead to a significant loss of vision. This is only one of the many ways smoking harms your vision and eye health, read on for more.
Cataracts: Smokers double their chance of forming cataracts and the risk continues to increase the more you smoke throughout your life.
Macular Degeneration: Men who smoke are three times more likely to lose the center of their vision due to macular degeneration; female smokers are five times more likely to develop MD.
Uveitis: A common cause of blindness, uveitis is found twice as often in smokers.
Diabetic Retinopathy: Related to diabetes, diabetic retinopathy can damage the eyes’ blood vessels. Smoking doubles the risk of developing diabetes and worsens almost all complications of diabetes.
Dry Eyes: Dry, itchy eyes are a common symptom of regular smokers and those around them as tobacco smoke is a harsh irritant, especially for those who wear contacts.
Infant Eye Disease: Smoking while pregnant drastically raises the odds of fetal and infant eye disorders, among other serious health problems. Smoking during pregnancy can cause lazy eyes or blindness in children and can even cause premature birth. Babies born prematurely are even more at risk of vision and eye health problems.
*In addition to increasing the likelihood of all of the aforementioned health problems, smoking also lowers the age at which these issues can develop.
Beyond the risk to your own health and the dangers to others posed by second-hand smoke, smoking simply is not worth it. While many acknowledge the danger to their lungs, heart or brain, most smokers would never consider just how much damage regular smoking can do to their eyes. Your cigarettes’ unhealthy chemicals and harsh smoke can rob you of your sight! Work with your doctor and loved ones to quit now. Most eye and vision diseases and disorders are non-reversible, so the sooner you commit the better.