How Smoking Harms Your Vision
Smoking is the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the United States. It harms nearly every organ in your body — including your eyes.
Adverse — and often fatal — health effects of cigarette smoking such as heart disease and cancer are all too familiar, but sight-threatening vision and eye problems generally are less well-known.
Here are more reasons you should kick the habit:
Smoking and Cataracts
Cataracts (clouding of the eye’s natural lens) are a leading cause of blindness in the world. More than 50 percent of Americans will have a cataract or have had cataract surgery by age 80.
Smokers significantly increase their risk of developing a cataract compared with non-smokers. In fact, studies show that people who smoke double their chance of forming cataracts, and the risk continues to increase the more you smoke.
Smoking and Macular Degeneration
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) affects the center of the retina, which is responsible for sharp, central vision needed for everyday tasks such as reading and driving.
Macular degeneration causes “blind spots” and often severely impairs central vision. AMD is the leading cause of permanent vision loss among Americans age 65 and older.
Studies show smokers can have a three-fold increase in the risk of developing AMD compared with people who have never smoked. And female smokers over age 80 are 5.5 times more likely to develop AMD than non-smokers of the same age.
But it’s not all bad news: because smoking is the biggest controllable risk factor associated with AMD, quitting smoking at any age, even later in life, can significantly reduce your risk of developing AMD.