The Effects of Smoking to Your Vision

Smoking is bad, no matter how you look into it, and damages almost every body organ, leading to various serious health problems such as lung cancer and heart disease. This includes harm to the windows of your soul - your eyes as found in several studies.

Smoking and Eye Diseases

Smoking is known to be linked to the following eye diseases, making them worse than it already is:

Cataracts

Cataracts are known to be clouding the eyes’ naturally clean lens. Because of this, it has become a leading cause of blindness globally. Through statistics, it is found that more than 50% of Americans will have a cataract or have had cataract surgery by age 80.

Compared with non-smokers, those who do so are more likely to increase the risk of this eye disease. Heavy smokers (15 cigarettes/day or more) have tripled their risk of cataract.

Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

Studies show that smokers are three to four times more likely to develop AMD than nonsmokers. In more specific detail, smokes and ex-smokers have more risk, and nonsmokers living with smokers too can double their risk of developing AMD. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) affects the macula, which is center of the retina by causing blind spots and severely impairing central vision. Losing the health of this part loses your vision’s sharpness, central vision, and the ability to see fine details. In a study, AMD is the leading cause of permanent vision loss among Americans aged 65 and older.

An important fact to the panicked: Smoking is the biggest controllable risk factor associated with AMD, so if you quit at any age, even later in life, it can significantly reduce your risk of developing AMD.

Diabetic Retinopathy

Smokers with diabetes increase their risk of getting Diabetic retinopathy. This disease damages the blood vessels of the retina causes blurry or distorted vision and can also result in vision loss. 

According to this data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 5 million Americans age 40 and older have diabetic retinopathy due to type 1 or type 2 diabetes. It is also found that the numbers will increase to about 16 million by 2050. Smoking and diabetes is one dangerous combination, doubling the risks further.  People with developed diabetes will have a harder time managing their condition if combined with smoking habits. Related complications aside from diabetic retinopathy would be heart disease, stroke, vascular disease, kidney disease, nerve damage, foot problems, and more.

Dry Eye Disease

Dry eye syndrome, also called keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS) refers to the condition in which there is an insufficient supply of tears which is needed to keep the eye lubricated and healthy. There are also some eye redness, scratchy, itchy feeling, a sting/burn sensation, and even watery eyes. These are all felt and worsen if you’re also into smoking.

Tobacco smoke is a known eye irritant, so people who smoke are nearly doubled their risk on worse cases of having dry eyes.

Uveitis

Uveitis is the inflammation of the eye's middle layer, or uvea. It also damages other vital parts of the eye such as the iris and retina. This is a serious eye disease that can also lead to various complications like cataracts, glaucoma, and a total loss of vision.

Research shows that smokers are more likely to have uveitis than non-smokers 2.2 times greater than normal risk of the condition and that smoking is linked to the development of uveitis. 

Infant Eye Disease

The harm of smoking to eye health isn’t only about adult smokers, but also to women who smoke during pregnancy and the baby that is about to be born. This causes the dangerous toxins to be transmitted to the placenta, potentially harming the unborn child. This increases the chance of many fetal/infant eye disorders, not to mention other serious health problems that smoking can cause.

Some of these diseases include crossed eyes and underdevelopment of the optic nerve, which is a leading cause of blindness in children. Babies are most likely to be born prematurely if women smoke during pregnancy, and this puts the child at greater risk of eye problems.

Quit and Don’t Think About Trying It!

The only way to move forward a healthier path is to NOT smoke, so for smokers: are you ready to quit? For non-smokers: are you ready to not think about trying to smoke?

Healthy habits bring healthy eyes

It's never too late to quit smoking. Doing so at any age can reduce your risk of developing many sight-threatening eye conditions. Lower the risk of vision loss as well by doing the following:

    • Eat healthy foods (including green leafy vegetables, fruits, and foods high in vitamins C, E, and beta carotene). Those who eat more leafy vegetables have a 20-30 percent lower risk of developing glaucoma. Nitrates in green vegetables turn to nitric oxide, which improves blood flow and helps regulate pressure inside the eye.
    • Stay active with regular exercise. People who engage in moderate to vigorous physical activity appear to have a 73 percent lower risk of developing glaucoma. 
    • Visit your eye care professional regularly. It’s always a good start to be constantly aware of your current health status. Healthspan, for instance, is an advanced epigenetics test that includes smoking in its vital biomarkers. With the help of health experts, you’re able to track progress and find out what you can do to move forward with improving health including vision.
    • Consider taking trusted eye supplements. To maximize your healthy vision plan, consider taking prescribed or trusted vision revival supplements to help with improving your eye health.