Tomorrow (12 March 2014) is No Smoking Day. Smokers across the country are being encouraged to give up cigarettes for numerous health reasons. Many of the negative effects smoking has on the body are well publicised; heart, lung and mouth disease being some of the most common. However, few appreciate the effect smoking has on the eyes.
Smoking is by far and away the most important modifiable factor in age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the loss of central vision. ‘Modifiable’ means it’s something you can do something about about – i.e. by stopping smoking. There are other risk factors of some of which are modifiable (e.g. UV light exposure and diet) and others which are non-modifiable (e.g. family history). A series of studies have found a significant link between smoking and this form of eye disease.
Cataracts are another eye condition associated with smoking. Cataracts are cloudy patches in the lens which cause visual impairment and various studies have found a link between smokers and the chance of developing cataracts. Although most people get cataracts as the get older, smokers get them younger and they develop faster.
Less seriously, smoking can make your eyes dry and uncomfortable by affecting your tear film, the layer of liquid constantly covering the eyes. You should very quickly notice an improvement in dry eye symptoms if you give up smoking.
So when you’re considering quitting, give a thought to your eyes.