Smoking and Eye Health


smoking and eye disorders

Did you know that cigarette smoke contains over 4000 chemicals.  At least 70 of these chemicals are known to cause cancer.  Some of these chemicals include nicotine, formaldehyde, lead, ammonia, benzene and carbon monoxide.

Smoking is the leading preventable cause of death.  Smoking harms all areas and organs of the body, not only does it cause cancer and heart disease but it can also affect your eye health.

Here are some eye disorders associated with smoking:

1.  Smoking and Macular Degeneration

Smoking increases the risk of developing macular degeneration.  Research has shown that you are three times more likely to develop macular degeneration than someone that doesn’t smoke.  People that don’t smoke may develop macular degeneration through passive smoking.

2.  Smoking and Cataracts

People that smoke are at great risk of developing cataracts compared to non smokers.   Research shows that the more you smoke the greater the likelihood of developing cataracts.

3.  Smoking and Diabetic Retinopathy

It is well known that smoking causes the hardening of blood vessels.  Diabetic retinopathy causes damage to blood vessels within the retina.  Smoking may not be the direct cause of diabetic retinopathy but may play role with the progression of the disorder with other factors like genetics and family history.  Today diabetic retinopathy is one of the leading causes of blindness.

4.  Smoking and Uveitis

Cigarette smoke contains chemicals that initiate inflammation of blood vessels which may lead to uveitis.  Uveitis is the inflammation of the uvea (middle layer of the eye).  This condition can contribute to loss of vision.  Research shows that individuals are twice as likely of having uveitis than individuals who have never smoked.

5.  Smoking and Dry Eyes

Dry eye syndrome is caused when the eye does not produce sufficient tears to lubricate the eye surface.  Symptoms of dry eyes include grittiness, foreign body sensation, redness, stinging and itchiness.  Cigarette smoke can contribute to the symptoms of dry eyes.  Not only is the smoker at risk but passive smokers are also at risk from dry eyes symptoms.

6.  Smoking during Pregnancy

Women that smoke during pregnancy put their newborn at risk with eye disorders.  Smoking increases the risk of foetal and infant eye disorders.  Smoking may cause your newborn to be cross eyed (strabismus).  Smoking increases the risk of premature births and babies born prematurely are at risk of retinopathy of prematurity.

One of the best things you can do if you are a smoker is to give up that habit.

If you need help with giving up smoking contact your GP to find smoking cessation aid to suit you.

If you need further assistance with your eyecare needs contact us today.



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