Smoking and Eye Health

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Most people that smoke know that smoking can cause many different health issues but I don’t think a lot of people realize that smoking can be very harmful to their eyes.

Cigarettes have numerous chemicals in them that irritate the eyes as well as carcinogens and destructive agents that can cause damage to the eyes.

Did you know that smoking can cause blindness? The longer you smoke the higher your risk becomes of losing partial or full vision.

Health Risks To the Eyes From Smoking

  • Damage to the Optic Nerve
  • Cataracts
  • AMD or Age-Related Macular Degeneration
  • Vascular Disease

The left optic nerve and the optic tracts.
The left optic nerve and the optic tracts. | Source
Scotoma
Scotoma | Source

Damage to the Optic Nerve

The optic nerve is what sends what we are seeing visually from the retina to the brain. The chemicals in tobacco can cause damage to the eyes optic nerve, which is called toxic optic neuropathy. There are different causes for this, but tobacco is one of the major causes.

How does this affect vision and the eyes?

  • A change in color vision is usually what first occurs and is painless.
  • Bright colors no longer seem as bright as they used to.
  • Blurry vision and dimness.
  • Although rare, blindness can occur.

Glaucoma - is caused by damage to the optic nerve. People that smoke and have high blood pressure or diabetes are at a greater risk of developing glaucoma.

Scotoma - (small growing spot) an alteration in the field of vision can develop.

Optic Neuropathy - When anyone smokes the blood flow throughout the entire body decreases .... this too can damage the optic nerve.


Magnified view of cataract
Magnified view of cataract | Source

Cataracts

A cataract is when a normally clear eye lens becomes clouded over. This is a normal aging process and most people by the age of 75 will have cataracts. Smoking can cause cataract formation to speed up.

There are many symptoms which include:

  • Blurry Vision
  • Poor night vision
  • Seeing double
  • Problems differentiating colors
  • Highly sensitive to glare

There are several different types of cataracts, so depending on what type of cataract one has can relate to the different symptoms.

Treatment and Surgery For Cataracts

When someone is first diagnosed with cataracts eyeglasses, new and stronger bifocals may be all that is needed for coping. When the cataracts start to seriously impair the vision to the point where it is affecting someone's lifestyle surgery should be the next step. Cataract surgery is very successful. The surgeon removed the clouded lens and replaces it with a plastic intraocular lens.

Vision for someone that has AMD versus someone without AMD

This is how someone with Age-related mascular degeneration might see
This is how someone with Age-related mascular degeneration might see | Source
This would be normal vision.
This would be normal vision. | Source

Age-Related Macular Degenertion

What is AMD or age-related macular degeneration?

AMD slowly destroys the macula, which is needed for seeing clearly. The macula is at the back of the eye, and is made up of light-sensing cells. When this becomes damaged vision becomes blurred as you can see in the picture. Many of the things we do and take for granted such as reading, driving, and so on becomes impossible to continue doing.

This can happen in one or both eyes. It gradually occurs and usually happens to people over the age of 50. By smoking however your risk of developing AMD doubles.

For more information on AMD please visit the National Eye Institute or discuss this with your optometrist.

Other Eye Health Problems Related to Smoking Include:

  • Dry eyes
  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • Amblyopia
  • Thyroid eye disease


Vascular Disease

Vascular eye disease blocks the blood flow to the eyes. Even though this is more common in people that have high blood pressure or diabetes one factor that increases the risk of developing vascular eye disease is smoking.

Symptoms include:

  • Loss of vision
  • Floaters
  • Blurry Vision


Disclaimer

Just Ask Susan is not a health care professional in any capacity. Everything in this article was found through researching how smoking can affect the eyes. Please consult an optometrist or your family practitioner for further information.


If you'd like to read more hubs by Just Ask Susan please visit her profile page.
If you'd like to read more hubs by Just Ask Susan please visit her profile page. | Source

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Comments 30 comments

Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 20 months ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Thanks Entourage, Nice to meet you!


Entourage_007 profile image

Entourage_007 20 months ago from Santa Barbara, CA

Great article, I am so glad I stopped smoking years ago. Even though I only smoked for about 3 months. I can see how it is really hard to stop. Very helpful information!


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Carol, I still have friends and relatives that smoke. I suppose I always will. Thanks for reading and for your comments.


carol7777 profile image

carol7777 4 years ago from Arizona

Fortunately smoking is not as popular as once was ...with the people we know. I am so glad not to be around these people and I used to come home with smoke filled clothes. The damage sounds pretty awful and a good reason to stay away.


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

SS, Thanks so much for stopping by and for the tweets and shares :)

newusedcarssacram, Glad that you found this useful and good luck when you do quit.


newusedcarssacram profile image

newusedcarssacram 4 years ago from Sacramento, CA, U.S.A

Hey Susan.

I would live to appreciate your hub because the content is very useful and helpful. I do have that bad habit that I want to quit.


Sharyn's Slant profile image

Sharyn's Slant 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

Well, although this is very scary to me, it is great information that I need to hear. So I am glad that you wrote this SZ :) Thank you. Tweeting and sharing!


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

KDuBarry, Thanks for reading and for your comments.


KDuBarry03 4 years ago

Cigarettes have about 600 additives, over 4K chemicals with 69 of them to cause cancer. I'm not shocked at all with the information you supply, Susan. Thank you for sharing more details about it!


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Just Ask Susan 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Thanks Frank!


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 4 years ago from Shelton

You know Justasksusan hubs like this are so important.. they should be a must read.. thank you for sharing :)


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Tammy, I have a hard time seeing at night while driving too. I'm not sure that it's related to smoking but it is a possibility.


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Ruchira, Thanks.


tammyswallow profile image

tammyswallow 4 years ago from North Carolina

Scary information here. I have smoked on and off for awhile and I have always heard that it causes night blindness. I have a very difficult time driving in the dark because my eyesight can't adjust quickly to lights behind me and in front of me. Reading this I am sure it could be due to smoking. This is a great public service.


Ruchira profile image

Ruchira 4 years ago from United States

Seriously did not know the ill effects of smoking and how it's related to the eyes.

Thanks for a useful hub, Susan.


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Brenda, I've never known anyone who has used snuff but according to Wikipedia snuff is free of tar and harmful gases such as carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides.


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Ruby, I only wish I had of quit sooner.


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Mama Kim, Thank you.


Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 4 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

Your information here is astounding. I never knew smoking contributed to eye damage. An elder friend has macular degeneration and has used snuff since she was a young girl. I wonder if it contributed? Thank you Susan for this information.


always exploring profile image

always exploring 4 years ago from Southern Illinois

Valid information. Smoking hurts the body in many ways. Thank goodness I quit..Great article Susan..Cheers


Mama Kim 8 profile image

Mama Kim 8 4 years ago

Great hub Susan, more people need to know these things about smoking. Voted up and sharing!


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

His princesz, Nice to meet you and thanks for commenting.


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

drbj, You should see the cigarette packs we have here in Canada. Tongue cancer photos that are really disturbing. All the packs have had pictures on them here for a few years now and show all different types of cancer and they include warnings that are very hard to ignore.


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

mmsu, My dad was a 3 pack a day smoker and he quit when he was around 58 or 60 I think. I do hope that yours will too.


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Audrey, I was too when I did all the research.

RH, I know you'll quit when you are ready.


His princesz profile image

His princesz 4 years ago

Wow glad to know all that information, that should stop smokers.


drbj profile image

drbj 4 years ago from south Florida

Disturbing but necessary to know information, Susan. Maybe if we print how smoking is bad for your eyes on cigarette packages, we could cut down on the number of young smokers before they get addicted. Just wonderin'.


mmsu profile image

mmsu 4 years ago from Pakistan

Smoking in every sense of the way is harmful for our body.My dad needs a lot persuasion to stop it and i'll show him this.


RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Wow so true another reason to quit and I AM gonna! I keep putting it on the back burner I know I need to stop. Glad your writing these because they are making me want to get serious about it!


AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 4 years ago from California

I didn't realize that this is how smoking affects the eyes although I am not surprised that the effects are negative--smoking is just bad all the way around--great hub Susan!

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