Study after study has proven smoking is bad for your health, especially your lungs and heart, but there are some detrimental effects smoking has on your vision, too. Smoking has been linked to two of the leading causes of vision loss, cataracts and macular degeneration, as well as a number of other eye health problems.
Cataracts occur when the lens in your eye thickens and becomes less transparent and less flexible. The lens becomes cloudy, causing vision changes including blurring, faded color perception, glare, poor night vision, double vision, and reduced vision. You could compare vision with cataracts to looking through a waterfall. So what’s the link to smoking? The more you smoke, the greater the risk becomes to develop cataracts. Smoking contributes to cataracts by altering the cells of the lens through oxidation. There is also evidence that smoking leads to the accumulation of heavy metals like cadmium in the lens.
Macular degeneration involves the deterioration of the macula, the central part of the retina that allows us to perceive fine details. As the macula wears out, people experience blurriness, distortions, or blind spots in their central vision. And how does this connect to smoking? Smoking promotes macular degeneration by interfering with blood flow to the retina. Smoking also increases the harmful effects of oxidation on the cells of the macula.What’s one of the safest things to do for your vision? Never start smoking at all. If you are a smoker, quit. Ex-smokers still have an increased risk of vision loss from cataracts or macular degeneration when compared with people who have never lit up a cigarette. For more information on how smoking can affect your eye health, call our office today.