The link between smoking and eye health

We all know that smoking is bad for your health, but did you know it can also lead to vision loss? It is thought that 28,000 cases of age-related macular degeneration (a condition that affects your central vision) in people aged 75 and over in the UK may be attributed to smoking. Let’s take a deeper look at how smoking can impact your eye health and the benefits of quitting.

Toxins in cigarettes

Toxins in cigarettes

The link between smoking and conditions like heart disease and cancer is well known. Fewer people know that there are many studies that highlight the links between smoking and eye health. Cigarettes contain over 7,000 chemicals that cause oxidative stress and inflammation that can be detrimental to eye health. This contributes to the development of certain eye diseases and conditions. Here are some of the conditions smokers are at a higher risk of developing:

  • Cataracts
  • Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)
  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • Dry eye syndrome
  • Retinal vascular diseases
  • Glaucoma

What you can do

Stop smoking

The best way to reduce the risk of these eye conditions is to stop smoking.

There are a multitude of benefits to quitting smoking, including reducing chemicals in tobacco smoking coming into contact with the eyes, which lowers the risk of developing cataracts.

Smokers are three times more likely to develop age-related macular degeneration. Stopping smoking can lower the risk of the condition developing and slow its progression if you already have it.

The leading cause of diabetic retinopathy is high blood sugar levels, which can be exacerbated by smoking. Cutting out smoking lowers blood sugar levels and blood pressure, significantly reducing the risk of diabetics developing the condition.

Contact lens wearers can also benefit from this change of lifestyle. Smoke can cause irritation, which can also lead to dry eyes. Removing this from your daily routine can result in your eyes feeling comfortable, healthy and well-lubricated.

Regular eye examinations are important to monitor your eye health. Attending your eye exam every two years allows our optometrists to monitor your eye health, identifying any changes that may have occurred.

Contact Us

If you have any concerns about your eye health or have noticed any changes, contact us to book an eye exam so we can assess your eyes and address any smoking-related changes.