More than 34 million adults in the United States are addicted to cigarettes, and it often has a detrimental effect on health. In fact, for roughly half of smokers, the habit causes cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases and other health complications.
The harm doesn’t stop there: As if heart and lung diseases weren’t bad enough, smoking can also cause or accelerate damage to your eyes. Here are the top 5 ways smoking is bad for your vision.
Is smoking bad for eyesight?
Smoking causes oxidative stress that can be harmful to your eye health. The neurotoxins in cigarettes damage the retina and optic nerve, causing a number of complications, including dry eyes, glaucoma and macular degeneration.
- Dry eyes. Smoking can cause or worsen dry eye disease. Not only does this make your eyes uncomfortable, but it also prevents your eyes from being able to clear away dust and debris that can cause uncomfortable microabrasions on the surface of the eye. The result is blurry vision and eye pain. Over the long-term, a smoker can incur permanent eye damage.
- Glaucoma. Cigarette smoking is a big contributor to diabetes and high blood pressure – both of which raise the risk of glaucoma. As one of the leading causes of blindness in adults, glaucoma is a complication no one wants to contend with.
- Diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy damages the blood vessels in the eyes, leading to vision problems and potential permanent blindness. Smoking increases the risk of diabetes that can lead to diabetic retinopathy.
- Macular degeneration. Like glaucoma, macular degeneration is a major cause of blindness in adults in the U.S. By some estimates, smokers develop macular degeneration at about four times the rate of non-smokers.
- Cataracts. Smoking may not directly cause cataracts, but this nasty habit can speed up the clouding of the crystalline lens of the eye, where cataracts form. That makes smoking an expensive habit in more ways than one!
If you smoke and are having trouble quitting, get help from a smoking cessation program. Talk to your eye doctor about how you can protect your eyes from cigarette smoke damage.
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