It’s common knowledge that smoking increases your risk of developing lung cancer and having heart disease or a stroke. But did you also know that smoking puts you at higher risk for developing eye diseases and losing vision?
Cigarette smoke is extremely toxic and contains as many as 4,000 active compounds, including tar, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, and heavy metals. In addition to harming the lungs, heart, blood vessels, and tissues of the body, these toxins have also been directly linked to two leading causes of vision loss, cataracts and macular degeneration.
Studies indicate that smoking can increase your risk of vision loss by up to four times. Smoking damages the blood vessels inside your eyes, damages your retina, and reduces the amount of oxygen that reaches your macula. Smoking also increases your risk of dry eye syndrome. In fact, smoking contributes to numerous eye diseases, such as:
- Macular degeneration
- Dry Eye Syndrome
- Diabetic retinopathy
- Thyroid eye disease
The more you smoke, the higher your risk of each of these conditions. And for people with other eye diseases, smoking elevates the risk of serious vision loss. When women smoke during pregnancy, they have a higher risk birth of delivering prematurely, putting their babies at higher risk for many health problems, including a potentially blinding disease called retinopathy of prematurity.
However, the good news is that after people quit smoking, their risks for some eye diseases becomes almost as low as for people who never smoked. So if you’re currently a smoker, talk to your doctor about how to quit before permanent vision loss occurs. And if you’re concerned that you may already be experiencing vision loss, consult with one of our expert eye specialists.
Baptist Eye Surgeons is an ophthalmological practice dedicated to providing quality eye care to patients whose needs range from routine comprehensive eye examinations to complex eye surgeries. To request an appointment or get directions to our Knoxville and Morristown locations, visit our website. Call us at 865-579-3920 for more information, or visit us online to schedule an appointment.