DOES SMOKING CAUSE MACULAR DEGENERATION?

Dr. Jim Martin 10/22/2013

cigarette.jpgSince 2003, the European Union has added warnings to their cigarette packs that state unequivocally, "smoking causes blindness." While you may not see the same warning used domestically, there is evidence to prove and uphold this statement regardless of the printed warning. In this article, we've outlined three simple steps you can take to reduce your chances of developing macular degeneration if you are a smoker.

How Does Smoking Effect My Eyes?


Cardiologists have long warned about the effects of smoking on your heart. The chemicals in cigarette smoke reduces your oxygen intake and damages your vascular system. That damage extends to your eyes, which rely on your vascular system for a healthy blood supply and nutrition.

When you smoke, it actually thickens the walls of your arteries, restricts blood flow, and raises your blood pressure. All of these things are harmful to your eyes. Your eyes have extremely fine blood vessels. If they are damaged, you risk losing vision. Smoking increases the risk of developing macular degeneration with vision loss because it affects the blood supply to the retina.

Here are three steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing macular degeneration:

Step 1: Get the facts. We've told you what smoking does to your eyes, but that's not enough to prove the point. People mistakenly believe that macular degeneration is only an age-related eventuality. They don't realize that smoking actually prematurely ages the eyes. Statistically, you are four to five times more likely to develop wet macular degeneration (more severe than dry) if you smoke. The lack of nourishment, oxygen, and blood flow to your eyes will catch up with you.

Step 2: Stop smoking. Cigarette smoking has led to 3,400 deaths a day. It has caused more than 18,000 people to visually impaired from macular degeneration in the last decade. One in every five cases of this condition is attributed to smoking. If you want to lower your risk of developing this disease, stop smoking immediately.

Step 3: Take regenerative or preventative action. Once you quit smoking, have a thorough eye exam to find out if there are any signs of macular degeneration apparent. If retinal changes are found, then treatment can begin immediately; such as special vitamin formulas and frequent retinal evaluations. Because it may take two decades for your risk levels to normalize, it is necessary for frequent visits to your eye doctor to look for early signs of this eye disease.

Is Smoking-related eye diseases preventable?

At Broome Optical, we believe “Life is worth seeing.” If you believe you have macular degeneration, or are at risk for this eye disease, contact us today to set up an eye appointment. Unfortunately, there is no cure for macular degeneration at this time, but here at Broome Optical we understand the symptoms and risks of this tragic eye disease. We can detect theonset of macular degenerationand speak with you about a course of action. The sooner we detect it, the better.

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