We all have heard the statistics on how smoking tobacco negatively impacts cardiovascular health and drastically increases a user’s chance of developing a myriad of diseases and cancers—not to mention it smells horrible and stains the teeth! However, many people fail to realize that smoking may also rob users of their eyesight.
That’s correct, studies have shown that smoking may lead to vision loss and an increase in the risk of age-related macular degeneration. If you were not already aware, macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss, affecting more than 10 million Americans over the age of 65. This number accounts for more than cataracts and glaucoma combined. Sadly, macular degeneration is an incurable eye disease caused by the deterioration of the central portion of the retina. This is the inside back layer of the eye that records the images we see and sends them via the optic nerve from the eye to the brain. While many rush to the eye doctor for a solution to restore vision, unfortunately there is nothing that can be done once this deterioration reaches a certain point. Shockingly, regular smokers are nearly four times more likely to develop macular degeneration than their nonsmoking counterparts. Even more depressing are the statistics on those who refrain from smoking, but are exposed to second-hand smoke: Nonsmokers living with smokers almost double their risk of developing macular degeneration.
Additional Health Risks
But it doesn’t stop there. Smoking can also lead to an increased risk of cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and dry eye syndrome. Heavy smokers (Up to 15 cigarettes per day—or more) have up to three times the risk of cataract as nonsmokers. Sure, there is a surgery that your eye doctor can perform treatment for cataracts, however it can be costly, painful and may still leave you with cloudy vision—almost like peering through smudged lenses.
While it’s well known that smoking can make developing diabetes more certain, lighting up also tends to make diabetes management more difficult. Need some incentive to stop? Your eyes aren’t the only body part at an increased risk. Diabetic complications increased by smoking include retinopathy—a serious disease of the retina that results in impairment or loss of vision, heart disease, stroke, kidney problems, foot problems nerve damage, and many others.
Dry Eye Syndrome—or damaged blood vessels in the eye, can lead to eye irritation, itchy eyes, and an unpleasant burning sensation, making it impossible to wear contacts. Smokers increase their risk of developing dry eyes by 100 percent.
For a reputable eye doctor in your area, Dr. Michael Pedrotti can assist you with any eye health questions as well as address any of your other eye care needs. We are committed to providing each patient with quality vision solutions. Our staff holds firmly to the value of offering excellent service, care and products through friendly, positive and professional teamwork. Call us today at (937) 435-2437 or contact us for any questions that you might have on your eye care health!