Smoking v’s Eyesight.

man smoking a cigarette

It’s no secret that cigarette smoking is linked to many health problems, or that it’s the leading worldwide cause of preventable death. Not as well known are the damaging effects it can have on the eyes and, ultimately, your vision.

Researchers have found that tobacco use can contribute to certain sight-threatening conditions. If you’re a smoker, these are just some of the ways lighting up can affect your eyes: Cataracts – Smoking doubles the risk of changes in the lens of your eye, resulting in cloudy vision.

Age-related macular degeneration – Smoking triples the risk of this disease, the leading cause of blindness in those over age 65. It also increases the severity of the disease.

Glaucoma – You significantly increase your risk of developing primary open-angle glaucoma, another leading cause of blindness.

Diabetic retinopathy (for those with diabetes) – Smoking increases your risk of diabetes and its complications, including potentially blinding changes in the blood vessels inside your eye.

Dry eyes – The irritating effects of cigarette smoke can cause your eyes to become red, dry and scratchy.

Problems with contact lens wear – You may find your contact lenses aren’t comfortable – a result of the dry eye effects of smoking. This could lead to corneal ulcerations, which can cause blindness.

Graves’ Disease – Tobacco use increases your chance of developing eye complications related to thyroid disease.

Uveitis – Smoking doubles your risk of developing inflammation inside your eye that can lead to cataracts and glaucoma.

Birth defects – Women who smoke during pregnancy increase the risk of having a baby with lazy eye and facial defects involving the eyes.

Second-hand smoke – Don’t be selfish, smoking can also cause eye issues in the people around you. Those exposed to passive smoke can also have problems with dry eye and contact lens comfort.

Don’t smoke? Great. Don’t start. If you are a smoker, make annual comprehensive eye examinations a priority. Your Optometrist can detect and treat eye conditions early to help prevent your eye health from going up in smoke.