Smoking and LASIK: The Blinding Truth

Most of us by now are aware of the dangers that can result from smoking. Smoking of any kind not only damages the lungs by decreasing lung capacity, it also increases the risk of cancer, heart disease and other pulmonary and cardiovascular problems, which can lead to death. It is imperative that those considering LASIK or any other surgical procedure be aware of how smoking can adversely affect their surgical outcome.

For most people, LASIK is a dream come true, something many save up years to get. Why then would one jeopardize their surgical outcome by smoking following the procedure?  

Smoking negatively affects every cell in the body by limiting its flow of oxygen. Oxygen is necessary for the repair of cells following surgery. By smoking, the healing process is compromised, which can increase the risk of developing a serious eye infection as well as delayed wound healing. Smoking slows the immune response as well as tissue healing. Tissue healing has been shown to increase 4-6 weeks after abstaining from smoking.

A common temporary side effect of LASIK is dry eye. With this condition the eye does not produce an adequate volume of tears or the tears produced are of a poor quality. This results in inadequately nourished eyes, which can lead to healing problems if left untreated. This condition is exacerbated when smoking is added to the equation because people that smoke have increased problems with dry eye. Adequately lubricated eyes are a vital component to optimal healing following LASIK.

To minimize the risk of these and other serious complications, it is recommended to quit smoking several weeks prior to undergoing LASIK. LASIK patients should continue abstaining from smoking not only for the week that is recommended by the surgeon, but also for good.

If you or someone you know is considering having LASIK and smokes cigarettes, give us a call to discuss your options. A life without vision is one that is peppered with challenges that are best avoided when possible. At Raleigh Eye Center, we want to help you live your best life. If you have questions, please call us at (919) 876-2427.