Smoking and eye health
Smoking and your eye health.
Smoking contributes to a multitude of health problems, including stroke, high blood pressure, cancer and heart disease. However, many people are unaware of the toxic effects of smoking on your vision and eye health.
⦁ Cornea/Tear film: Increased risk of Dry Eye Syndrome
⦁ Symptoms: Burning, itching, redness, tearing, foreign body sensation and intermittent blurry vision.
⦁ Extraocular muscles (EOM – six muscles that control the eye): increased risk for Graves’ Disease.
⦁ Symptoms: Stare due to eyelid retraction, redness, irritation, light sensitivity, double vision, EOM restriction, increased eye pressure
⦁ Conjunctiva: Increased risk of conjunctivitis (pink eye)
⦁ Symptoms: Pink eye, burning, stinging, itching, swollen eyelids, light sensitivity
⦁ Lens: Cataracts. Risk >3x vs non smokers.
⦁ Symptoms: blurred vision, difficulties with night driving (glare and halos)
⦁ Optic Nerve: Increased risk and progression of Glaucoma, Toxic Optic neuropathy, ischemic optic neuropathy, increased risk of progression and relapse or optic neuritis.
⦁ Symptoms: visual field defect, pain, blur (or loss) vision, color deficiency.
⦁ Retina: Increased risk and progression of diabetic retinopathy and age related macular degeneration. Risk of macular degeneration in smokers is 2-3x more than non smokers.
⦁ Symptoms: Loss of vision, distortion in vision.
⦁ Refractive changes: Research shows relationship between child’s myopia and history of maternal (mother) smoking during child’s life and pregnancy and history of paternal (father) smoking.
⦁ women smoking during pregnancy are more likely to give birth prematurely, putting the newborn at potentially blinding disease called Retinopathy of prematurity.
The toxic effects of smoking are caused by decreased flow to blood to the vessels of the eye, increased formation of clots within these blood vessels and cell damage from free radicals. However studies have shown a dose dependent relationship between tobacco use and its health side effects, therefore, these diseases (risk of) will likely decrease after smoking cessation. Some ocular conditions related to tobacco smoking have no cure, and therefore it is crucial to realize the importance of smoking cessation.
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