Smoking’s Hidden Eye Dangers

We all know that smoking is dangerous to our health. We hear about the problems that smoking can cause such as lung cancer and emphysema. Did you know that smoking can actually cause problems to your eyes? Here are a few of the most serious problems that can happen to the eyes of smokers.

People who smoke have four times greater chance of developing macular degeneration than those that do not. If you have smoked in the past, you are still at risk. In fact, those that have smoked in the past have three times the risk. Macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in the United States and typically affects people aged 65 and older. As this disease develops, the macula, which is the part of the retina that is responsible for central vision, degenerates. This leads to a progressive loss of vision in one or both eyes.

If you already have thyroid disease, you are at a higher risk of developing thyroid eye disease if you smoke. Graves’ disease is the most common form of hyperthyroidism and can often cause inflammation of the tissue and muscles that surround the eyes. The result of which can cause the eyes to bulge or protrude from the eye sockets. It is extremely important to quit smoking immediately if you suffer from thyroid disease.

A cataract occurs when there is clouding of the crystalline lens within the eye. Smoking can cause early development of cataracts. It can also cause artery and vein occlusion as well as optic nerve damage as smoking causes a decrease in blood flow throughout the body. Over time, this can cause damage to the optic nerve, resulting in optic neuropathy.

Finally, smoking can increase the risk of developing a serious eye infection as well as delayed wound healing in those that undergo LASIK or PRK. Smoking slows the immune response as well as tissue healing. Tissue healing has been shown to increase 4-6 weeks after abstaining from smoking.

If you or someone you know is a smoker, please pass this valuable information along to them. If you are considering having LASIK and smoke 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 today for a consultation.