The Many Ways Smoking Destroys Your Vision

LASIK eye surgery solves many vision-related problems; some of which have been perpetuated by years of smoking. Today, smoking stands as the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the United States. Smoking is well known to cause cancer, the evidence is overwhelmingly conclusive. Other adverse, and often fatal, health effects such as heart disease are all too familiar, but did you know smoking negatively affects other organs like your eyes? It’s true. Here are a few more reasons you should toss out that pack and kick the habit: Dry Eyes Let’s start with the least severe of the list and move up from there. Smoking causes dry eye syndrome, which is diagnosed as an insufficient amount of tears on the eye’s surface. Tears are there to keep the eye well lubricated and healthy, but dry eye sufferers can experience symptoms such as itchiness, eye redness, watery eyes, and even a “foreign body” sensation. People who smoke are nearly two times more likely to have dry eyes. Although this condition never leads to death, it is extremely uncomfortable, especially for second-hand smokers — particularly for individuals who wear contact lenses. Uveitis One serious eye disease made worse by smoking is Uveitis, which is inflammation of the eye’s middle layer, or uvea. It can eventually result in complete vision loss, harming the most vital parts of the eye, including the iris and the retina. It can also lead to other complications such as glaucoma, cataracts and even retinal detachment. One study found that smoking could increase the chances of contracting the condition by 2.2 times. Macular Degeneration Age-related macular denegation (AMD) is the leading cause of vision loss in American senior citizens, affecting the center of the retina responsible for the central vision we need for preforming everyday tasks, like reading. Macular degeneration causes what’s known as “blind spots”, often impairing central vision severely. Studies show that smokers are three times more likely to develop AMD, and female smokers over the age of 80 are 5.5 times more likely to develop AMD than nonsmokers of the same age. Cataracts Cataracts are a clouding of the eye’s natural lens, and are a leading cause of blindness in the world. By age 80, over 50 percent of Americans will have a cataract and many will have to have cataract surgery. Studies show that people who smoke are two times more likely to develop cataracts, and the risk continues to increase the more you smoke. If you have cataracts, contact Eye Care Specialists to schedule an appointment at 781-769-8880. We can to help you find the right treatment for better eyesight. Diabetic Retinopathy More than 5 million Americans age 40 and older have diabetic retinopathy, which can cause vision loss as a result of damage to the blood vessels of the retina. Studies find that smoking can double the risk of developing the disease, and unfortunately, the number of those affected will grow to about 16 million by 2050 (according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Smoking and Infant Eye Disease A mother who smokes transmits dangerous chemicals to her placenta. This harms the unborn child, increasing the chance of eye disorders, among other serious health problems, including: strabismus and underdevelopment of the optic nerve, the number one cause of blindness in children. In addition to these horrific diseases, pregnant women who smoke are more likely to have a premature birth. Ready to Quit? According to studies, it’s never too late quit smoking and enjoy the benefits of a healthier body by reversing the adverse effects of smoking. The professionals at  Eye Care Specialists would like you to remember that quitting smoking, at any age, reduces your risk of developing many sight-threatening eye conditions. The healing begins as soon as you quit. As always, consult your doctor for help with quitting smoking. Please visit the American Lung Association website for more information: