Cigarette smoke is known to be one of the leading causes of preventable death in the world. It causes a whole host of diseases and disorders throughout the body despite being commonly associated only with lung cancer and respiratory conditions. What most people do not know, however, is that smoking is very likely to cause severe and irreversible damage to the eyes.

Eye diseases and disorders caused by smoking:

1. Uveitis
Uveitis is an inflammation of the middle layer of the eye, known as the uvea. This condition can cause complete and permanent loss of vision. Research shows that smokers are 220% more likely to develop uveitis than those who have never smoked. 

2. Dry Eye Syndrome
The eye is a sensitive organ and needs to be constantly lubricated with tears. Dry eye syndrome is a condition that results from insufficient tears on the surface of the eye, which are essential for keeping the sensitive membranes of the eye healthy. Cigarette smoke is a known eye irritant and it can either cause or significantly worsen the condition. The condition causes red eyes, constant itchiness and a feeling of having a foreign object in the eye. 

3. Damage to infants’ eyes
Smoking during pregnancy passes on the dangerous toxins in tobacco from the mother to the child. This has a number of terrible side-effects on the unborn baby’s eyes, among a host of other illnesses. The child may be born with strabismus (crossed eyes), underdeveloped optic nerves (a leading cause of blindness in children) and in premature babies, retinopathy of prematurity, a disease which could very well result in blindness. 

4. Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD)
AMD is a degenerative condition resulting from either fatty deposits or leaking blood vessels under the retina. It often starts with loss of central vision, making it difficult to read and see fine details, then a progressive loss of vision follows. Smokers are at a 300% to 400% greater risk of developing AMD.



How to reduce the risk:


Quit smoking: The first and most effective recommendation by most doctors is to stop smoking. Cigarettes smoke contains around 7000 chemicals, over 60 of which are confirmed carcinogens. It is no wonder then that the first recommendation is to quit. The Cancer Association offers free support for anyone trying to quit tobacco. With most of the smoking-related eye conditions, quitting smoking significantly reduces risk.

Eat healthy: It is often not enough to just stop a bad habit, a new good habit must then be taken up. Looking after your body by eating healthy and drinking water will help the body repair itself. 

Visit an eye care specialist: Regular visits to your eye care specialist will help with prevention, early detection and effective treatment of most ocular disorders. 

By quitting smoking today, one can greatly reduce their chances of suffering from these afflictions. In many cases, much of the damage caused by smoking can be repaired naturally by the body over time. Treatment has a greater chance of being effective for non-smokers. 

Beyond being essential to our regular daily activities, our eyes are the portal in which we experience much of the world’s beauty. There are so many wonderful sights we take for granted, from the dawn on a summer morning to the loving gaze of our partners. Every one of these is a good reason to quit smoking and get professional eye care. Visit Vision Works for affordable eye tests and professional eye care. 

#LoveYourEyes

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