Smoking cigarette is extremely toxic, containing more than 4000 active compounds, including tar, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, and heavy metals. Its destructive effects on the lungs and heart are well known and established by medical researchers. Smoking can also have detrimental effects on your eyes. It has been directly linked to leading causes of vision loss, cataracts and macular degeneration. In fact, eye specialists believe smoking also causes or contributes to a number of other eye health problems.
What You Can Do
Countless studies have shown that smokers are at a great risk of developing cataracts compared with non-smokers. The risk is three times more in passive smokers. Ophthalmologists have discovered a particular relationship between cataracts and the amount that you smoke- the more you smoke, the more chance you have of developing cataracts. They believe smoking contributes to cataracts by changing the cells of the lens through oxidation. There is enough evidence that shows smoking leads to the accumulation of heavy metals like cadmium in the lens.
Smoking and Macular Degeneration
Smoking also increases a person’s risk of developing macular degeneration. Researchers have found that smokers face a risk of developing macular degeneration that 2-4 times greater than that of non-smokers. As with cataracts, ophthalmologists have found that the risk increases with an individual’s inclination towards smoking. They have also discovered an increased risk of macular degeneration in people who don’t smoke but are frequently exposed to environmental cigarette smoke.
Macular degeneration involves the deterioration of the macula, the central part of the retina that allows us to see clear pictures. As the macula wears out, people experience blurriness, distortions, or blind spots in their central vision.
Eye doctors believe that smoking promotes macular degeneration by interfering with blood flow to the retina.
Other eye problems linked with smoking
Apart from cataracts and macular degeneration, there other eye problems related to smoking including:
People who want to quit smoking
can improve their chances of avoiding eye disease, say ophthalmologists. The eyes can heal from the damage done by cigarette smoking, although very slowly. Eye doctors say people who have quit smoking for 25 years have a 20 percent lower risk of cataracts when compared with current smokers.
One of the safest things to do to not only protect your eyes but other body organs also is to never start smoking. Ex-smokers still have an increased risk of vision loss from cataracts or macular degeneration when compared with people who have never lit up a cigarette.