Impacts Eye Health Too
a rare person who is not aware that smoking can cause lung and other
cancers, but did you know smoking can have an adverse effect on
your vision as well?
macular degeneration (ARMD) is perhaps the most significant threat
to smokers' eye health. The link between smoking and ARMD is as
strong as the link between smoking and lung cancer, yet few are
aware of the link or even of ARMD.
macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss and legal
blindness in Americans age 65 and older, according to the eye-health
organization Prevent Blindness America. The macula is the part of
the retina we use for reading, driving, recognizing faces, watching
television, and fine work: in short, it is the region of maximum
visual acuity. Smoking causes damage to the macula, which is found
in the retina, where light-sensitive cells process images.
have shown that people who stopped smoking 20 years ago have a similar
risk of developing ARMD as nonsmokers, and that the risk starts
to decrease after ten years of not smoking.
a Chinese University of Hong Kong study has found strong links between
smoking and toxic damage to the eye. Depending on the amount of
exposure, secondhand smoke can create similar dangers for nonsmokers.
Toxins associated with smoking may decrease blood flow or cause
clots to develop within eye capillaries, cutting off vital nutrients
essential for eye health. Smoking also causes development of free
radicals, which can disrupt normal function of otherwise healthy
cells and lead to eye disease.
may be a risk factor for other eye conditions, including:
There is conclusive evidence that smoking causes nuclear cataracts.
Recent reviews have found smokers' risk of developing nuclear
cataracts to be up to 2.9 times that of those who have never smoked.
Smoking causes shrinkage or constriction of blood vessels, which
is directly linked to rising inner eye pressure that can lead
to glaucoma and accompanying optic nerve damage.
ophthalmopathy: This condition, often associated with thyroid
disease, disrupts muscle control of the eye; smoking has been
shown to increase the risk of developing thyroid disease.
Retinopathy: While smoking may not directly cause diabetic retinopathy,
most experts agree that quitting smoking helps stop progression
of the disease.
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