From bad breath and yellow teeth to heart disease and lung cancer, smoking cigarettes is linked to many serious health problems. But did you know that this bad habit also has a severe impact on your eyes? Full of toxins, cigarettes can damage many delicate components of your eyes and trigger a variety of ocular health problems. If you’re looking for reasons to quit, here are a few ways that smoking can put your eye care in danger.
3 Vision Problems Linked to Smoking
A cataract forms when proteins clump together in the lens, creating a cloudy film that can eventually block vision. If the problem advances, the cataract must be removed and replaced with an artificial lens through eye surgery.
People who smoke are two to three times more likely to develop cataracts than those who don’t. Although the exact link is unknown, this increased risk may result from cigarettes causing oxidation within the cells of the eye. Smoking may also contribute to an accumulation of cadmium—a metal—in the eye.
2. Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Age-related macular degeneration is a leading cause of vision loss among seniors that occurs when the light-sensitive portion of the retina is damaged. Although some eye care treatments can help delay the progression of this ocular disease, there is no cure for it.
While this problem is fairly common for all seniors, it’s more prevalent among those who smoke. Research suggests that smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke contribute to the formation of deposits in the eye. These deposits thicken the retina, resulting in macular degeneration.
3. Optic Nerve Damage
Optic neuropathy is a condition that occurs when the optic nerve is damaged, resulting in progressive vision loss and irreversible blindness. This damage is more prevalent among smokers for several different reasons.
For example, people who smoke are more likely to develop glaucoma—a condition associated with increased pressure in the eye. Over time, this pressure can cause damage to the optic nerve. Smoking is also associated with problems known to damage blood vessels—including those that serve the optic nerve—such as high blood pressure and arteriosclerosis.
Since many smoking-related eye diseases do not produce symptoms early on, it’s important to schedule regular vision exams with an optometrist—even if you quit using cigarettes. If you’re due for a checkup, Midwest Eye Center: A Division of TriState Centers for Sight can make the process as seamless and stress-free as possible. Equipped with state-of-the-art optical tools, these eye doctors can pinpoint ocular diseases accurately and develop customized treatment plans to protect your vision as much as possible. To learn more about how this vision provider in Cincinnati, OH, and northern Kentucky can enhance your eye care, visit their website, or call (859) 525-6215 to schedule an appointment.