It’s common knowledge that cigarettes contribute to lung disease, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. But, did you know smoking cigarettes can also harm your vision? Smoking is a key risk factor for cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, dry eyes, uveitis, and age-related macular degeneration, among other prevalent eye conditions.
Read on to learn more about how cigarettes can negatively impact your ocular health.
How Do Cigarettes Affect Vision?
Cigarettes impact the eyes in a few key ways:
Cigarettes contain chemicals that promote inflammation throughout the body, including in the eyes. This makes the blood vessels in the eyes more susceptible to damage and increases the risk of uveitis, a condition that occurs when the eye’s middle layer (called the uvea) becomes inflamed.
Free Radical Damage
Cigarettes promote the production of free radicals, which can compromise the cells’ normal functioning. Free radicals are also known to contribute to various ocular conditions, including cataracts. When free radicals from cigarettes harm the proteins and lipids in the eyes, they can cause deposits to develop on the eye’s natural lens, causing cataracts. Damage to the lipid layer of the tear film can also lead to chronic dry eye.
Blood Vessel Damage
Cigarettes contain nicotine, which causes blood vessels to constrict. When the blood vessels in the eyes constrict, it reduces the flow of blood, oxygen, and nutrients to the eyes. Nicotine also increases the risk of blood vessel rupture, which can cause macular degeneration.
Smokers are 30 to 40% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, which can have a significant impact on your ocular health. Diabetes can damage the small blood vessels in the retina, causing blood and fluid to leak into the eye. This is known as diabetic retinopathy and can lead to vision loss.
To protect the health of your eyes, schedule a consultation at The Eye Clinic of Florida today.