Did you know? Smoking could make you blind

Photo by Stefan Postles/Getty Images

“Stop smoking, it’s bad for your lungs!” You’ve probably heard this a thousand times but did you know that smoking is bad for your sight?

CEO at Dynamic Vision Optometrists Ruahan Naude says people need to stop smoking if they want to preserve their eyesight.

“Smoking increases the risk of age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma and dry-eye syndrome. None of these bodes well for eye health or vision.”

Age-related macular degeneration is when the centre of the retina is damaged, causing severe vision loss and even blindness. Studies show 25% of age-related macular degeneration is linked to smoking tobacco. This means if you’re a smoker, you have a higher chance of losing your sight.

Quitting cigarettes not only spares your general health and saves you money, it reduces your chance of developing cataracts. Cataracts are when your eye’s naturally clear lens begins to cloud. Smoking has been shown to double the risk of developing cataracts - the leading cause of visual impairment.

Smoking has also been linked to risk factors for glaucoma, such as high blood pressure, cataracts and diabetes. Glaucoma is a condition that causes damage to the eye's optic nerve and it not only gets worse over time but can lead to permanent vision loss.

The most common effect of smoking on your sight is dry-eye syndrome. This is when your eyes aren’t properly lubricated because they don’t produce enough tears. It causes irritation, making your eyes red, and blurring your vision.

Smoking doesn’t only affect the eyes of smokers, it’s also dangerous for those who come into contact with their smoke.

“Children that are exposed to tobacco smoke have a 20% chance of developing inflammation of the eyes. Eyelids can swell, become itchy and burn,” Naude says.

Quit smoking, it’s good for your eyes! 

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