The effects of smoking on eye health

The dangers of smoking are well documented with many aware that cigarettes can lead to health problems such as lung cancer, heart disease and emphysema, yet little is heard about long term eye problems that can be caused by smoking.

Ahead of National No Smoking Day today the Optrex experts provides information on four eye heath issues that can be caused by smoking:

  • Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration develops when the macula (the part of the eye responsible for central vision) is unable to function as effectively as it used to. Smoking leads to premature ageing of cells, which in turn causes the macula to degenerate. For long-term smokers it can lead to irreversible loss of central vision

  • Cataracts

Cataracts are cloudy patches in the lens that can make vision blurred or misty and can be caused by the toxins in cigarette smoke. The risk of smokers developing cataracts is further increased as smoking reduces the levels of antioxidants and enzymes in the body, making it harder to repair any damage to the eye

  • Optic Nerve Damage

Nicotine is a nerve constrictor which, if taken into the body regularly, can damage eyes. Long term smokers are most at risk, as the nerves in eyes become congested and could eventually result in partial to complete vision loss

  • Dry Eyes

Tears aren’t just for crying, the essential nutrients contained in the droplets work to keep eyes clean and moist. Without them eyes quickly become dry and irritated, leading to burning sensations, eye fatigue, blurred vision and itching. The smoke from cigarettes quickly dries moisture in the eyes, and even passive smoke can alter the tear films of eyes, leading to discomfort and irritation