The dangers of smoking have been widely documented. It damages just about every organ in your body, including your eyes. In fact, smoking is the largest preventable causal factor of disease. If you’re looking for a great New Year’s resolution this holiday season, consider making a concerted effort to quit smoking once and for all.
Below are six vision problems that are more likely to occur if you smoke.
Smokers are twice as likely as nonsmokers to develop cataracts. This risk increases progressively the more you smoke too.
Cataracts are an age-related vision condition that results in a clouding of your eye’s natural lens. It is the leading cause of blindness worldwide, but this condition doesn’t have to rob you of your vision. Cataract surgery can be performed to remove your eye’s cloudy natural lens and replace it with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL). At Kirk Eye Center, we offer a variety of premium IOL options that can eliminate your dependence on glasses following cataract surgery.
Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Smokers have a significantly higher risk of developing age-related macular degeneration:
- Smokers are three times more likely than nonsmokers to develop this condition
- Female smokers over the age of 80 are five and a half times more likely to develop age-related macular degeneration than women over 80 who don’t smoke
Age-related macular degeneration is one of the leading causes of vision loss for people over 65. The condition results in a deterioration of the central portion of your retina, which is responsible for the central vision used in many routine daily tasks such as driving and reading. Peripheral vision isn’t affected by this condition. Dr. Kirk offers a variety of treatments for age-related macular degeneration and will recommend the best approach for your unique situation.
Smokers are more than twice as likely to develop uveitis as nonsmokers. This condition results in an inflammation of the middle layer of your eye and can lead to blindness if not treated in a timely manner. The damage caused to the retina and iris as part of uveitis can also increase your risk of other conditions such as:
Diabetes affects many organs in your body, including the eyes. Over 5 million Americans with type 1 or type 2 diabetes have developed diabetic retinopathy, a condition which damages the blood vessels in your retina. Diabetic retinopathy can result in permanent vision loss.
Smoking significantly increases your risk of diabetes, and it also has been linked to an increased risk of developing diabetic retinopathy. If you have diabetes, it’s crucial that you visit our ophthalmologists for regular eye exams to ensure this condition is detected in its earliest stages.
Dry Eye Syndrome
Dry eye syndrome is a condition that occurs when your tear glands fail to produce a sufficient quantity or quality of tear film. This prevents your eyes from staying properly lubricated and can lead to a variety of uncomfortable symptoms.
Tobacco smoke can exacerbate dry eye syndrome, and smokers are two times more likely to develop dry eyes than nonsmokers. If you wear contact lenses, you may find that your symptoms are even more uncomfortable. While quitting smoking can help reduce your discomfort, we encourage you to visit Kirk Eye Center in order to receive treatment that can more effectively alleviate the condition.
Infant Eye Disease
Smoking during pregnancy exposes the unborn child to dangerous toxins and increases the risk that your baby will be born with a variety of health issues. Smoking during pregnancy will significantly increase the risk of fetal and infant eye disorders, including:
- An underdeveloped optic nerve (the leading cause of blindness in children)
- Retinopathy of prematurity (a condition that may occur if your baby is born prematurely)
Contact our Loveland Ophthalmologists
Quitting smoking is an important step that will help you reduce your risk of many dangerous eye conditions. Regardless of whether you smoke, it’s important to schedule an eye exam every year to ensure these conditions are caught in their earliest stages.
Please contact Kirk Eye Center using the form on this page or call 970-669-1107 today to schedule an appointment. We serve patients in Loveland, Fort Collins and throughout Northern Colorado.