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Vision Risks as a Smoker | Long Island Eye Doctor

Dr. Joel Kestenbaum

Many smokers understand that each day that they continue to smoke a cigarette that they are that much closer to their dying day. Tobacco is harmful to your health as well as those around you who inhale the secondhand smoke. Smoking is a hard habit to break, but it is important to do so. Not only does smoking cause damage to your lungs and your body and brain as a whole, smoking has also been known to do damage to your vision and eyes. While most smokers realize they are damaging their lungs when smoking, they are not so quick to observe the fact that they are hurting their vision.

Smoking increases your risk of developing eye conditions and diseases, such as the ones listed below:

  • Irritated Eyes – This is the first eye condition that you are going to notice – chronic redness and irritation. While the irritation may go away after a while, it doesn’t mean that the problem has been dealt with. The smoke can cause changes in the eye’s tear film causing dry eye syndrome as well as eye allergies.
  • Cataracts – Smoking has been linked to increasing your risk of developing cataracts. In fact, studies show that cataracts can come earlier in life and are worse because of smoking.  Smoking reduces the amount of antioxidants within our eyes, which is known to lead cataracts.
  • Macular Degeneration – Those that smoke are known to be four times more at risk for developing this eye disease, which is an age-related disease.
  • Thyroid Eye Disease – Someone with thyroid disease and smokes has a higher probability of developing thyroid eye disease. A disease known as Graves’ disease can cause inflammation and swelling of the muscles and tissues that enclose the eyes. This can sometimes result in the eyeballs to protrude or bulge from their sockets.
  • Optic Neuropathy – Because smoking decreases your body’s blood flow, your optic nerve is at serious risk. Toxic optic neuropathy is caused by the consumption of methyl alcohol and generally causes a very fast deterioration in vision and sometimes irreversible blindness. This is especially true if the condition is not treated within 1-2 days.

Your Plainview Long Island eye doctor can provide you with a comprehensive eye exam and can generally catch any early signs of eye condition and disease development. An eye exam yearly, or at least every two years, is very important if you are a smoker because you are more susceptible to developing eye diseases and disorders.

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