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Home » What's New » Does Smoking Affect Vision?

Does Smoking Affect Vision?

Eye Doctors Weigh In: How Smoking Can Harm Your Vision & Eye Health

We all know that smoking is bad for you, especially the risks that it poses to your heart and lungs. What many people do not know is that cigarette smoke negatively affects your eyes and vision too. Smoking has been directly linked to an increase in the risks of both cataracts and macular degeneration, two leading causes of vision loss, and it is believed to be a factor in a number of other eye and vision issues. 

Smoking and Cataracts

Studies show that smoking doubles the risk of cataracts and with heavy smoking, the risk triples. In fact, there seems to be a direct correlation between the amount of smoking and the likelihood of cataracts. Cataracts are characterised by the clouding of the lens of the eye and it is believed that smoking affects the cells of the lens, accelerating this process. 

Cataracts are a leading cause of vision loss worldwide, however they can be treated surgically by removing the clouded lens and replacing it with an artificial one. Symptoms include: 

    • Blurred, cloudy or dim vision 
    • Sensitivity to light and glare
    • Presence of halos around lights
    • Increasingly poor night vision
    • Fading color vision
    • Double vision
    • and frequent prescription changes with minimal improvement in vision 

Smoking and Age-Related Macular Degeneration

According to medical research, smoking increases the likelihood of developing age-related macular degeneration between two and four times the normal risk - the more you smoke, the greater the risk. Unfortunately, there is also an increased risk for those exposed to cigarette smoke for extended periods of time. 

Age-related macular degeneration or AMD is a condition in which the macula, which is the center of the retina, begins to to deteriorate, reducing central vision and the eye’s ability to see fine details. The disease is characterized by blurred and distorted eyesight and blind spots in the central vision. With time, the disease can progress to leave the person with low vision, which is significant vision loss that cannot be corrected by eyeglasses, contact lenses or refractive surgery. 

Other Eye and Vision Risks of Smoking

Smoking has also been linked to dry eyes, optic nerve damage and diabetic retinopathy (for those with diabetes). 

"Eye Vitamins" are often used without doctor's recommendations. Smokers are cautioned not to take beta-carotene supplements, specifically, (or multi-vitamins containing this ingredient) as studies indicate there is increased risk of cancer even in people who quit smoking.

What to Do?

Even if you have been smoking for years, quitting will reduce the risks of developing these conditions, for yourself and those around you. If you do smoke, make sure to schedule a comprehensive eye exam every year to catch any developing disease early. Early diagnosis and treatment can be the key to saving your vision and preventing permanent vision loss. 

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Dear Valued Patient,

With all the news and information coming out about the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), we are taking necessary precautions to ensure the health and safety of you as our patient, our staff, and our community. In addition, we are continuously checking for updates from both the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the American Optometric Association (AOA) on guidelines as to what, we as your health care provider must do and be aware of. All of our offices are diligently practicing proper hygiene through handwashing by both the optometrists and staff, and the disinfecting of all of our equipment and surfaces in the waiting room, pre-testing, optical, and exam rooms.

In addition, we are advising any of our patients with flu-like symptoms including fever, cough, and shortness of breath to stay home, as well as those who have traveled to any country on the CDC advisory list in the last 14 days. For those who are not experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, we advise taking similar precautionary measures such as washing your hands often and disinfecting and cleaning any frequently touched surfaces.

If you are considering changing or cancelling an upcoming appointment please call one of our offices and discuss options with a friendly staff member. Your health and safety is a priority to us, so any same day cancellations due to illness will not be subjected to a $50 cancellation fee due to the circumstances. Otherwise, we look forward to your visit and will hopefully see you soon! For more information on COVID-19, ways to stay healthy, and what to look out for, please visit the CDC.gov.

Thank You, Eye Care Associates, P.C.