DOES SMOKING AFFECT YOUR EYES?

Dr. Jim Martin 11/18/2015

cigarette.pngEveryone knows the danger smoking poses to the heart and lungs. Regular campaigns have warned people about those dangers, but few people talk about the damage that smoking does to the eyes. Smoking, in fact, can extensively damage one's eyesight and lead to a host of eye-related health issues that are difficult to treat.

How Does Smoking Affect Your Eyes?

Smoking has a negative impact on the eyes, and the nerves responsible for one's eyesight. Heavy smokers are at an increased risk for cataracts, while also being four to five times more likely to suffer from age-related macular degeneration. Researchers believe the chemicals and carcinogens in the smoke can starve the nerves in the eye of the oxygen they need to remain healthy, leading to both issues.

Smokers are also more likely to develop dry eye syndrome and glaucoma. The link between glaucoma and smoking is a complex one. Smokers are more likely to suffer from high blood pressure, which directly impacts the health of the nerves in the eyes, raising ocular pressure and causing strain on the nerves of the eye. Dry eye syndrome is caused when the blood vessels of the eye are damaged, leading to itching, stinging and discomfort in the eye.

Smokers who are also diabetic are more likely to develop diabetic retinopathy. Smoking can make it difficult to control diabetes and increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

How Can You Keep Your Eyes Healthy?

Eye care professionals suggest smokers quit smoking. The good news is that the body can often repair itself from the damage of smoking. Quitting smoking can limit damage done to the eyes, and prevent further damage from occurring.

You can keep your eyes healthy by eating a well-balanced diet that includes leafy vegetables and fruits. Both food groups are high in vitamin C and E, while avoiding beta carotene (vitamin A). Each are required to ensure the health and wellness of your eyesight. Exercising and keeping blood pressure problems under control can also positively impact your eyesight.

Finally, you should have regular eye checkups with an eye care professional. Preventative medicine is necessary to ensure the wellbeing of your eyesight. Seeing an optometrist annually to check on your eyesight is a quick and easy way to avoid larger issues.

If you have any further questions or concerns about your eyesight, call the professionals at Broome Optical. We'll be happy to help you with your eye care needs.

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