The Connection Between Smoking and Eye Health

May 3, 2023 | Eye Health Info

Most people know smoking can have serious health consequences like lung cancer and heart disease. But did you know that smoking can also affect your eye health? Smoking can increase your risk of developing several serious eye conditions, including cataracts, age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and diabetic retinopathy.

Tobacco smoke contains harmful chemicals that can damage the blood vessels in your eyes, reducing the amount of oxygen and nutrients they receive. Over time, this damage can lead to problems like blurry vision, blind spots, and even complete vision loss. Here are some of the ways smoking can affect your vision and eye health.

3 ways smoking affects your vision & eye health

1. Age-related macular degeneration
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of vision loss among older adults, and smoking increases your risk of developing the disease. In fact, smokers are twice as likely to develop AMD compared to non-smokers. This condition occurs when the macula, the part of the retina responsible for sharp, central vision, begins to deteriorate.

2. Cataracts
Smoking is a major risk factor for cataracts, which cause clouding of the eye’s lens. Smokers are more likely to develop cataracts at an earlier age compared to non-smokers, and the risk increases the longer you smoke and the more cigarettes you smoke.

3. Diabetic retinopathy
Smoking can also worsen diabetic retinopathy, a condition that occurs when high blood sugar levels damage the blood vessels in the retina. If you have diabetes, smoking can significantly increase your risk of developing this condition and can make it more difficult to manage.

How to protect your eyes

So, what can you do to protect your eye health? The most important step is to quit smoking. Within just a few years of quitting, your risk of developing AMD can drop significantly. In addition, quitting smoking can also reduce your risk of other smoking-related health issues like heart disease and lung cancer.

If you’re struggling to quit smoking, talk to your doctor about creating a plan that works for you. There are plenty of resources available to help, including support groups and nicotine replacement therapies like patches or gum.

In the meantime, if you’re experiencing any eye-related symptoms or have concerns about your eye health, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Spring House Eye Associates in Spring House and Glenside. We’re here to help keep your eyes healthy and happy!

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