Eye Health Special: Smoking and Vision

This month includes National Eye Health Week and we’d like to take this opportunity to warn about the detrimental effects smoking can have on your vision. You probably know cigarettes are bad for you – but they just damage your lungs right? Wrong. Cigarettes damage your eye health in multiple ways, potentially leading to a plethora of diseases such a dry eye and even cataracts. Here are just a few of the problems that smoking can potentially lead to.

Dry Eye Syndrome
Smoking doubles your chances of getting dry eye syndrome. Cigarette smoke is an irritant and if it gets into your eyes it can cause dry eye, meaning your eyes cannot produce enough lubricant in the form of tears. It can make your eyes feel itchy and sore.

Cataracts
Smoking doubles your chances of getting cataracts. Cataracts are caused by your eye’s lens becoming cloudy. Cataracts impair your vision and can lead to blindness. And the more you smoke, the greater risk you have of eye problems later in life.

Macular Degeneration
Smoking may triple your chances of suffering from AMD. AMD or Age Related Macular Degeneration damages the fovea, causing a loss of vision in the most sensitive part of your retina. This can lead to blind spots, making sufferers unable to perform everyday activities that require sight such as driving. Further, women who smoke are 5.5 times more likely to get AMD than male smokers. Smoking is the biggest controllable factor in AMD so if you can quit smoking, you could be saving your eyes.