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Smoking and Eye Health: What You Need to Know

We all know that smoking is bad for our overall health, but did you know it also puts your eyes at risk? Studies have shown that smoking increases the likelihood of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataracts, and diabetic eye diseases. Let’s break down why smoking is so harmful to eye health.

Cataracts are the world’s leading cause of blindness, and smokers are twice as likely to develop them compared to non-smokers. Cataracts cloud the lens of your eye, which can lead to vision loss if left untreated. The good news is that cataracts can be treated surgically with great success.  

Diabetic Eye Diseases
Any eye problem with “diabetic” in the name obviously has a connection to diabetes. Studies have shown that smoking increases the likelihood of developing diabetes by as much as 40%. Diabetes can put you at risk for a variety of serious vision problems such as diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and macular edema—all of which can lead to vision loss if not managed properly.

AMD (Age-Related Macular Degeneration)
Smoking triples your risk of developing AMD and also makes it more likely to happen at an earlier age. AMD causes irreversible damage to your retina and blind spots in your central vision, making everyday activities like reading or driving difficult or even impossible without assistance.

Vaping has been presented as a healthy alternative to smoking, but that’s simply not true. Vape products still contain nicotine and other toxic chemicals which can be harmful when inhaled into your lungs—and these toxins negatively affect your eyesight too.

We can’t always control our eye disease risk factors, such as age or family history, but we can control if we choose to we smoke. If you currently smoke or vape, quitting now will reduce your risk for developing many serious eye diseases later in life—so don’t wait another day! Explore your options to quit smoking today and get back on the path towards better overall wellbeing–and remember, keeping up with annual eye exams is crucial for early detection of any eye disease.