Smoking’s Effect on Vision
From heart disease to stroke to cancer, smoking can lead to a number of major health problems. However, most people don’t even realize that smoking can also affect vision in negative ways. A disease usually associated with the old – cloudy vision caused by cataracts – can become a problem for anyone who smokes at any age. By smoking, you also increase your risk of vision loss due to age-related macular degeneration, or AMD.
Macular degeneration causes blind spots, impairing your central vision in a major way. In fact, AMD is the top cause of permanent vision loss among people age 65 and older. Smokers have a three-fold increase in the risk of developing AMD compared with those who don’t smoke. In addition, female smokers over the age of 80 are 5-1/2 times more likely to develop AMD than non-smokers of that same age.
If you smoke, you’re twice as likely as your non-smoking counterparts to contract uveitis, a condition that affects the uvea, or the eye’s middle layer. In addition, you are more likely to develop diabetic retinopathy, a disease of the retina that can rob you of your vision.
It’s well known that tobacco smoke is an environmental irritant, which means it can affect anyone around you. First and second-hand smoke can cause and worsen dry eye, which can lead to extremely uncomfortable itchy, dry eyes. This is even more common if you are a menopausal woman.
If you already suffer from an eye disease, you can up your risk of serious vision loss by smoking. If you are pregnant, you’re putting your baby’s health at risk for retinopathy of prematurity, which can lead to blindness.
All of this can sound pretty disheartening. But they are great reasons to quit smoking now. Once you quit, your risk for many eye diseases gets just about as low as for people who have never smoked. Making the commitment to stop smoking now is your greatest chance to fight the risk of disease and dry eye. Make an investment in your long-term health now. Visit the American Cancer Society for tips on how to quit smoking.
Next, contact Simon Eye Associates for an appointment to check the health of your eyes. We can offer you more information on smoking’s effect on your vision. Serving patients in Wilmington, Newark, Bear and Middletown communities, please don’t hesitate to call us now at 302-239-1933 or complete our convenient online form.