A well-known, highly studied, and widely confirmed fact: Cigarette smoke is destructive. Smoking is the single greatest avoidable cause of disease and premature death in the United States. Brimming with thousands of toxic chemical compounds ranging from carcinogens, heavy metals, and poisons that cause damage to every organ our bodies, including our eyes.

If you needed more reasons to quit, here they are.

Increased Risk of Cataracts

The risk of the world’s leading cause of blindness is doubled by smoking and for heavy smokers, it can be nearly tripled. The specific relationship between cataracts and smoking is based on the amount you smoke; the more you smoke, the greater the risk. Studies show evidence of cigarette smoke contributing to cataract development by altering cells of the eye’s lens through oxidation and an accumulation of heavy metals in the lens.

Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Studies show that risk of smokers developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is 2-4 times greater than non-smokers. Similar to cataracts, the risk increases with the more a person has smoked. Not only that, smokers are likely to develop AMD up to ten years earlier than the average non-smoker. Doctors believe AMD is promoted by smoking through the interference of blood flow to the retina. As well as the damaging effects of oxidation to the cells of the macula.

Smoking & Uveitis

Studies find that smokers are more than twice as likely to develop uveitis (inflammation of the eye’s middle layer) than non-smokers. Harming eye structures including the iris and retina can lead to other complications like cataracts, glaucoma, and retinal detachment. In the U.S. about 10 percent of blindness is caused by uveitis. Compounds found in cigarette smoke are known to cause inflammation within blood vessels and this may contribute to immune system disruption and uveitis.

Diabetic Retinopathy

More than 5 million Americans over the age of 40 have diabetic retinopathy caused by type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Diabetic retinopathy causes damage to the blood vessels of the retina and may result in vision loss by depleting the sensitive cells found within the retina of needed oxygen. Since smoking increases the risk of diabetes development by as much as 40-50%, the risk of diabetic retinopathy in smokers is nearly doubled.

Dry Eye Syndrome

Dry eye syndrome is a condition caused by a low quantity or quality of tears or a common gland dysfunction within the eyelids. These conditions cause dry, itchy, red, and irritated eyes. Cigarette smoke is a well-known eye irritant and worsens the symptoms of dry eye syndrome. People who smoke are twice as likely to have dry eyes. Not only does this affect the vision of the smoker, it can put the vision of anyone around them at risk too.

Vision Problems, Smoking, & What You Can Do

It is never too late to improve your health. Research shows that quitting smoking, no matter your age, will improve your ability to avoid vision problems and related eye diseases. Learn more today about the effects cigarette smoking have on your eyes by calling or contacting online the professionals at NeoVision Eye Center. Let’s discuss your eye care needs and keep you on the path of healthy clear vision.