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Why smoking hurts our eyes
Smoking is a health hazard, but millions of people in Germany smoke. Those affected also endanger their eyesight from smoking, because smoking significantly increases the risk of going blind.
Despite a clear connection, most people do not know that smoking can lead to blindness. Only about every fifth person is aware of this risk, according to a survey by the Association of Optometrists (AOP).
Tobacco smoke and its effects on the eyes
Most people know the link between smoking and cancer, but many people are unaware of the effects of smoking on the eyes. Smoking and exposure to smoke significantly increase the risk of eye disease and vision loss, the authors report in a press release. The increased risk of vision loss from smoking is related to the fact that tobacco smoke can cause and exacerbate a number of eye disorders. Cigarette smoke contains toxic substances that can irritate and damage the eyes.
Smoking increases the risk of cataracts
For example, heavy metals such as lead and copper can accumulate in the lens, the transparent part of the eye that is behind the pupil, which contributes to so-called cataracts, in which the lens becomes cloudy. Smoking doubles the risk of cataracts. Smokers tend to develop cataracts earlier than usual.
Smoking can contribute to age-related macular degeneration
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a very common cause of vision loss and mainly affects the elderly. Smokers are up to four times more likely to develop AMD, which can make everyday activities such as reading or recognizing faces difficult or even impossible. Quitting smoking is the best way to reduce the risk of AMD.
Dry eyes and uveitis from smoking
Smoking also leads to dry eyes, a condition that can be really uncomfortable for those affected. The eyes burn, are irritated and sensitive. In addition, smokers develop uveitis at least twice as often, a condition in which the middle layer of the eyeball becomes inflamed and causes eye pain and vision problems. The condition can also lead to secondary eye diseases such as glaucoma and cataracts.
Diabetes and smoking
If you have diabetes, smoking increases your risk of developing retinopathy, which damages the blood vessels in the retina. This often leads to visual disturbances and can cause permanent vision loss.
Quit smoking to protect your eyes
Quitting smoking is one of the best steps you can take to protect your eyesight. Regardless of whether you are a smoker, ex-smoker or have never smoked, you should have your eyesight checked regularly. Because an eye test can provide important information about possible diseases. The Association of Optometrists experts advise having an eye test at least every two years, or more often if your eye doctor recommends it. (as)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.