Unquestionably, smoking is a tough habit to break. Despite, people knowing its several harmful side effects on heart, respiratory system, etc., its detrimental impact on vision is not widely known.
According to Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) in India, currently tobacco use in any form is very common as can be seen from these shocking percentages
- adults – 28.6%
- male population – 42.4%
- females – 14.2%
More horrifying data is the fact that amongst daily tobacco users, 60.2% of them consumed it within half an hour of waking up.
It is not unknown that Cigarette smoke is highly toxic to our body including our eyes. Do you know it affects our eyes? And, our vision? Well, researchers have studied direct links between smoking and two major causes of vision loss:
Cataract: Cataract is the leading cause of blindness worldwide, which is clouding of the natural transparent lens of eye. It is found that through oxidation, smoking can alter the cells of the lens. Moreover, it may also cause deposition of harmful metals such as cadmium in the lens. This causes blurry vision which eventually if not treated matures to swell and causes other complications in the eye. The risk of developing of cataract is considerably higher in smokers as compared to non-smokers. In a study, it was found that individuals who smoke were at double risk of developing cataract, which continues to increase more when they smoke.
Macular Degeneration: Smoking also increases an individual’s risk of developing macular degeneration. Macular degeneration is referred to as the worsening of the macula that is the central part of the retina that allows us to see fine details of an object. This directly affects our vision and lead to symptoms like blurriness, distortions, or blind spots in central vision. Eye doctors believe that tobacco interferes with the blood flow in the retina and thereby promotes macular degeneration. Macula cells are also affected by oxidation caused by smoking. Various studies have reported that smokers are 2 to 4 times highly likely to develop macular degeneration than non –smokers. Further, those people who are passive smokers are no less excluded from attracting such eye diseases. Passive smokers are those who do not smoke but are in the vicinity of cigarette/tobacco smoke.
Dry eyes: When we smoke, smoke gets into our eyes. Cigarette smoking is regarded as one of the risk factors for the development of dry eye symptoms. This is because the conjunctival mucosa is highly sensitive to airborne chemicals, fumes, and irritative gases that are contents of tobacco smoke. This leads to conjunctival redness, discomfort due to stimulation of the conjunctival-free nerve endings.
Other Eye Problems Related to Smoking:
Following eye problems are also associated with smoking:-
- Diabetic retinopathy
- Optic nerve damage
- Retinal ischemia
- Tobacco-alcohol amblyopia
What To Do:
Those who have been regularly smoking and want to avoid smoking-related eye problems need not lose heart already. Several studies have found that quitting smoking reduces the risk of getting the eye diseases.
If you think you have been a regular smoker or you are on your way to quit, your eye health should be your priority. Drop by for an eye check-up, and avail best eye care service from Dr Agarwals Eye Hospital.