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Smoking And Eye Health: Side Effects Of Smoking Cigarettes

Smoking is good... if you are looking for a slow and painful way to kill yourself and others.

The tobacco smoke is composed of over 4,000 different chemicals that are poisonous to our body whether long or short term.

If you are a smoker, the sheer fact of quit smoking, is one of the greatest investment you can make for your health and people around you.

It also keep your wallet fuller.

Why pay the tobacco companies that are killing you slowly? 

Smoking And Your Health

Every year in United States, 15 percent of all deaths can be attributed to smoking. 

Cigarettes rob the lungs of oxygen and replace it with lethal carbon monoxide.

It is known to damage the lungs and the heart, and it has been strongly linked to multiple form of cancer. 

Cigarette smoking speeds up the development of plaques (collections of cholesterol and fat), in the walls of arteries which gradually block the arteries and blood flow becomes limited.

Smoking And Eye

The facts on smoking which I had stated so far are much well-known. What most people do not know is that smoking affects the eyes too. 

Have you put down that stick of Malboro already?


Nevermind, here’s more reasons to do so.

Smoking And Eye Irritation

Eye irritation

Non-smokers often complain of eye irritation when exposed to tobacco smoking. 

Tobacco fumes irritate and inflame the conjunctiva, a thin and clear membrane that covers of the white part of the eye (conjunctivitis).

Often causing bloodshot eyes. Does that mean smokers are spared from this irritation of eyes? 

Of course not. In fact, they are putting themselves under the barrage of the smoke every time they lit up that cigarette.

Smoking And Dry Eye

A study by Banskent University was held to investigate the effects of smoking cigarettes on the ocular surface and tear film.

The study proved that smoking has deteriorating effects on the lipid layer, the oily top layer of the tear film that is directly responsible for lubricating and preventing the evaporation of aqueous tears. 

The anatomy of tear film

What happens when the lipid layer is reduced? As you have guessed, those uncomfortable itchy-till-want-to-dig-your-eyes-out dry eyes. 

Children are especially vulnerable to this.

Tobacco smoke, even passive smoke inhaled by children, can alter the tear film of eyes, exacerbating dry eye syndrome

The study also revealed that the group of smokers had significantly shortened tear film break up times.

Drinking alcohol can have a similar effect.

Smoking And Strabismus

Strabismus, more commonly known as ‘crossed eye’,  is a condition in which the eyes are not aligned properly. 

Think about the baby

In 2010, a study on smoking and pregnancy appeared in The American Journal of Epidemiology.

It is discovered that children born to mothers who smoked during pregnancy have 38 percent higher risk of getting strabismus as compared to those who eschewed smoking while pregnant.

Smoking 10 or more cigarettes a day was associated with a 90 percent greater risk.

Smoking mothers aren't hot at all.

Smoking And Cataracts

Cataract is the clouding in our natural lens which can stop light from entering our eyes.

It may cause permanent blindness until the cataract is removed by surgery.

In a study of more than 50,000 women, aged 45-67, those who smoked had a 63 percent increased risk of cataracts as compared with non-smokers.

Not only does smoking increase the likelihood of developing cataracts, studies have shown that the progression of cataracts is also linked to cigarette smoking.

Smoking And Macular Degeneration

Macula is the oval-shaped yellow spot that is found in the center of our retina.

Eye diagram

It contains highly specialized photo-receptor cells. 

These cells are responsible for high acuity vision which is important for day-to-day activities such as reading and driving. 

As the macula requires the finest blood supply in the body, any obstruction or failure of the blood supply will happen to the macula first even before other body functions may be affected.

The lack of blood supply will cause a gradual failure of vision

To salvage the situation, the brain will grow new vessels to supply the needed oxygen. However, this blood vessels are abnormal and easily leak.  

The leakage can result in scarring of the retina and severe vision loss. 

View with macular degeneration

Smoking also creates oxidative damage in the retina and reduces blood flow in eye tissue.

Smokers are more likely to suffer from all types of macular degeneration, and more likely to develop the disease ten years earlier than nonsmokers.

Studies shown that smokers have 3 times the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration than those who don’t.

People who have smoked in the past have also 3 times the risk of having a more severe form of macular degeneration.

It is a good idea to drop those cigarettes if you want to keep your central vision.

Convinced to throw your cigarette already?

Still no? No sweat.

If you think this is all there is on the consequences of the Smoking And Eye, let me prove you wrong.

Smoking And Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetes has already a lot of complications such as heart disease, stroke and circulation problems.

Smoking adds the risk of developing all of these things.

Nicotine and carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke are thought to be important causes of arteries losing their elasticity making them more likely to rupture.

The amount of oxygen in blood is also reduced with the corresponding increase in carbon monoxide.

Diabetic retinopathy is a diabetes induced sight-threatening eye complication in which the blood vessels that supply oxygen to the retina are damaged by elevated blood sugar levels.

This condition is further accelerated with the existence of nicotine and carbon monoxide.

Smoking And Thyroid Eye Disease

Thyroid Eye Disease

An 1993 article in the Journal of the American Medical Association discovered that smokers are twice more likely to develop Graves' disease than non-smokers. 

Graves' disease is an autoimmune disease in which the thyroid gland becomes overactive, and produces too much thyroid hormone. 

The thyroid hormone may causes inflammation and swelling in the soft tissues and muscles that surround the eyes.

This causes the eyeballs to protrude from their sockets.

This condition is known as thyroid eye disease which often causes double vision and loss of vision.

According to the research, smoking also worsens eye problems in people with Graves' disease. 

What’s more, it is discovered ("Smoking affects Graves' disease treatment,' Annals Of Internal Medicine, 1998) that radioiodine and steroid treatment for thyroid eye disease were also four times more effective in dealing with the eye symptoms for nonsmokers than smokers. 

Smoking And Optic Neuropathy

Smoking decreases blood flow throughout the body due to hardening and development of plaques (atherosclerosis) in the arteries. 

Optic Nerve

When there isn't enough blood going to the eye’s optic nerve, it leads to an eye disease called anterior ischaemic optic neuropathy that often results in a sudden, painless loss of vision or blindness.

Smokers are 16 times more likely to develop this disease as compared with non-smokers.  

Furthermore, smokers are found to develop optic neuropathy at younger age.

In one study smokers were found to develop the disease at an average age of 51 and nonsmokers at an average age of 64.

Afterword On Smoking And Eye

Ask for a helping hand

By now, you probably realized that there are too much at risk regarding smoking and eye health.

You can probably live with a heart attack, coughing your lungs out and half your face clamped due to stroke.

But are you willing to live in total darkness?

Are you ready to live your prime life as a blind person and had to depend on aids and people to move around?

The only way to prevent all these tobacco related disorders is to quit smoking immediately. 

For yourself and your child. For your future, butt those cigarette packs into the rubbish truck now.

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