Walk Away from Cigarettes: How Smoking Impacts Vision
Most of us are aware that smoking can negatively impact many aspects of our health, but did you know that smoking can play a role in blindness as well?
1) Dry Eye: The smoke produced by cigarettes will dry the eyes and cause dry eye symptoms such as burning, irritation, redness, and blurry vision that comes and goes. Smokers are less tolerant towards contact lenses and are at a higher risk of infection when wearing contacts.
2) Thyroid Eye Disease: Smoking increases risk of developing Thyroid Eye Disease and the severity of eye disease in those who have it. In Thyroid Eye Disease, the tissues around your eyes become inflamed, causing blurry vision, double vision, dryness, and a bulging appearance of the eyes.
3) Age-Related Macular Degeneration (ARMD): The toxins in cigarettes can damage your macula, which is responsible for your central vision. ARMD can make your central vision wavy, blurry, or distorted. Poor central vision makes it severely difficult to read, drive, and see people’s faces clearly.
4) Cataracts: Everyone will develop cataracts if they live long enough, but smoking can accelerate cataract formation. Those who smoke are more likely to develop cataracts early, which cause blurred vision and glare.
5) Diabetes: Smoking increases your risk of developing diabetes, which can cause vision loss if the diabetes damages your retina. Diabetes can cause damage to the blood vessels in your retina, causing bleeds, swelling, retinal detachments, and glaucoma.
It is never too late to quit smoking and reduce your risk of blindness. There are many programs, for example the BC Smoking Cessation Program, that can help you take the first steps towards quitting.