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How Does Smoking Affect Eyesight?

12th July 2019
We have all heard about the dangers of smoking – it can harm every organ in the body and that includes the eyes.

Generally when we think of smoking and what it does to us, it’s usually something to do with our lungs, but smoking can actually damage eyesight faster than a disease. Here are some of the ways smoking can damage our eyes.

Increased Risk Of Cataracts
Cataracts are the world’s leading cause of blindness – smoking generally doubles the risk of developing them, or triples the risk if you are a heavy smoker. The first signs of cataracts include; the blurring of vision, ghosting of images or double vision and reduction of contrast and colour perception.

Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)
AMD is a leading cause of blindness, which usually starts with blind spots, reading comes more difficult, faces become harder to recognise. The risk of AMD is increased by three times if you are a smoker. The good news is, quitting smoking at any age, even later in life, can significantly reduce your risk of developing the condition.

Secondhand Smoke and Vision
Secondhand smoke, is known to be incredibly dangerous to anyone around the smoker. It can also harm the vision of those around the smoker – this is most likely to affect infants and young children.

Smoking and Diabetic Retinopathy
Smoking increases the risk of developing diabetes by 30-40% and increases the progression of diabetic retinopathy. Diabetes causes damage to the blood vessels in the retina, which then bleed into the eye. If not carefully managed, diabetes can starve the light-sensitive cells in the retina of oxygen and lead to blindness.

Time to quit?
There is some good news – smoking is the most preventable cause of vision loss, as you can choose to quit or never start. Even if you have been smoking for a long time, quitting at any age can significantly reduce the risk of health complications.

Do you have a question about your eye health? Ask one of our experts at our next free Open Event.

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