It is estimated that 34 million adults smoke cigarettes in the United States. While many people know that smoking is bad for your health and can cause heart disease, breathing problems and cancer, people may not know that it is detrimental to your eyes as well. The chemicals in cigarettes include carcinogens and pro-inflammatory chemicals. These chemicals attack the cells of the body and can do a lot of damage. The effects can not only happen to the person who is smoking but the second-hand smoke can hurt the eyes as well. With second hand smoke, children can have a greater chance of getting different forms of conjunctivitis including allergy and inflammatory. They can also have a greater risk of styes due to the increase in inflammation of the eyelids.
For adults who smoke, there are a few more conditions that can occur including the ones mentioned above. With the increase in inflammation, it can increase the production of cataracts up to 3 times greater than someone who doesn’t smoke. Smoking can also increase the risk of retinopathy, including diabetic retinopathy, up to 40 percent compared to non-smokers. Studies show the risk for macular degeneration in people who smoke is 3 times greater. They also can start developing macular degeneration ten years earlier than a non-smoker. Smoking also can promote the development of dry eyes. Not only is the physical gas an irritant to the front surface of the eye, but the inflammation affects the ability to produce tears naturally.
The new trend of vaping is not considered to be a healthy alternative to smoking. There are still many chemicals in e-cigarettes that are linked to the development of similar diseases and conditions that regular cigarettes can produce.
There are different options to help quit smoking including gum, patches, prescriptions and programs. Your health care providers can refer you to the correct people or programs to help you quit smoking and improve your eyes and overall health. Your health is our top priority! Call for an appointment today at (860) 233- 2020 if you would like to further discuss your eye health with an eye care professional.