Experts agree that there are innumerable reasons to avoid smoking. In the U.S., this habit has been identified as the primary preventable cause of disease and death. Most people are aware of the major consequence of smoking, such as cancer and heart disease; and these are significant enough to cause you to think twice about lighting up. However, there are complications to health that occur early on for the smoker. Here are several ways that eye health is affected by the habit.
Millions of people experience chronic irritation due to the insufficient production of tears or inadequate lubrication of the eyes. In order for the eyes to be healthy, it is necessary that the natural biofilm of oil and water remain consistent across the eye. When this film evaporates too quickly or cannot form due to poor production, the eyes constantly feel itchy and irritated. Because the chemicals in cigarettes are irritants, smokers are two times more likely to develop dry eye disease.
Cataracts may develop in one eye or both. This condition affects the natural lens of the eye, in which it becomes clouded. Cataracts lead to blindness, and smokers are doubly at risk for this problem. The more a person smokes, the greater the risk for cataracts.
Macular degeneration is typically an age-related eye disease. It involves the retina, which enables you to focus on objects at various distances. Central vision is affected by this condition, which leads to blind spots and permanent vision impairment. Due to the effect of cigarette smoke on the eyes, smokers are three-times more likely to develop macular degeneration as they age. The good news is that quitting the habit has a significant positive effect on eye health.
This serious condition affects the middle layer of the eye. The inflammation of the uvea leads to damage in other structures, such as the retina and iris. Conditions that may arise from uveitis include retinal detachment, glaucoma, and cataracts. Researchers suggest that smoking is a factor in the development of this inflammatory condition.
Smoking Affects Infants, Too!
Research has shown that smoking while pregnant transmits harmful toxins to the placenta. Since this organ nourishes the fetus, there is a potential for a number of health problems and eye disorders, such as an underdeveloped optic nerve or strabismus (cross-eyed).
Get the Help you Need
It can be challenging to kick the smoking habit when nicotine is so addictive. For help, speak with your doctor. You may also visit www.smokefree.gov.