The Connection Between Smoking and Eye Health
Smoking is a harmful habit that has been long associated with numerous health risks. Infamous for causing cancer almost everywhere in the body, many people may not be aware of the detrimental impact smoking can have on eye health. In the blog, we discuss the connection between smoking and eye health as well as explore various eye conditions that can be developed by smoking.
Before we begin, we want to emphasise how crucial it is to prioritise your eyes and take steps to quit if you are a smoker. Your vision is a precious gift and your lifestyle choices have a huge effect on your health. You should protect it.
Smoking and Its Effects on Eye Health
Cataracts is a common eye condition which causes clouding on the eye’s natural lens, leading to interrupted vision. Normally, the lens is clear and transparent. This allows for light to pass through and focus on the retina at the back of the eye. Smoking has been strongly associated with an increased risk of developing cataracts and can also accelerate the progression of existing cataracts. Inflammation of the lens is often apparent in smokers. This can contribute to the formation and progression of cataracts.
Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)
Age-related macular degeneration or AMD is a progressive disease that affects the sharpness of your vision. The macula is the central part of the retina, located at the back of the eye, and is responsible for the detail in your vision. It is a leading cause of vision loss among older adults, particularly those 50+. Smoking has been identified as a significant risk factor in the development of AMD. Due to blood vessel damage, there is a limited flow of blood to the macula. This results in damage and cell death.
Dry Eye Syndrome
Dry eye syndrome is a common eye condition whereby discomfort is caused due to insufficient tear production or poor tear quality. Many describe it as the sensation of a foreign object in the eye. Smoking can alter the composition of the tear film. This can make tears less stable and more likely to evaporate quickly. This can result in dry and uncomfortable eyes.
Harmful Chemicals in Cigarettes
Nicotine is the addictive compound found in cigarettes. When someone smokes, nicotine can constrict the blood vessels in the eyes. This constriction reduces the amount of blood flow, containing nutrients and oxygen to the eye tissue. Adequate oxygenation and nutrient supply are essential for maintaining healthy eyes. Reduced blood flow means that the eyes may become more susceptible to various conditions and diseases.
The tar produced by smoking is a harmful byproduct that can negatively impact eye health. Containing various toxins, tar can lead to chronic eye irritation and a multitude of other issues. Exposure to tar can increase the likelihood of developing infections because it disrupts the body’s natural defences. Eye infections can range from mild conjunctivitis to more severe conditions that may require medical treatment.
Quitting Smoking for Better Eye Health
Quitting smoking is one of the best decisions you can make for your overall eye health. By quitting smoking and adopting a healthier lifestyle, you can significantly reduce your chances of developing the condition mentioned in this blog. Protect your vision.
There are plenty of resources online that can help you kick the bad habit of smoking. Please take a look at the NHS website if you want to see almost immediate improvements to your health!