Smoking and Vision Loss: Here’s What to Know

Smoking is associated with a higher risk for developing multiple health problems. While lung cancer and heart disease are often the focus of anti-smoking campaigns, it is also important to recognize the impact that tobacco use can have on your eyes. People who smoke do have a higher risk for vision loss, and learning about how this habit can impact your eyes helps you preserve your ability to see well for years into the future.

Understand How Smoking Affects Your Eyes

Smoke is naturally an irritant that can cause symptoms such as redness and excessive tear production. Yet, the effects of smoking also occur in the deeper layers of your eye. Smoking introduces more free radicals into your body that impact the cells that line your eyes. Over time, smoking can also damage the blood vessels that help carry oxygen and nutrients to your eyes, which increases the risk of developing ocular diseases.

Know the Eye Conditions That Are Associated With Smoking

People who smoke are twice as likely to develop age-related macular degeneration as those who don’t. You are also three times as likely to develop cataracts compared to someone who chooses not to smoke. Smokers are also more likely to develop eye infections due to the irritation that the smoke generates, and the recovery from eye-related procedures can often take longer and have a higher risk of complications for people who smoke.

Watch for the Symptoms of Smoking-Related Eye Diseases

When you have a smoking habit, you’ll want to be extra careful about watching out for common eye symptoms that indicate a need to visit a Brooklyn, NY ophthalmology clinic. Seeing distortions or a loss of your central vision could indicate the possibility that you are developing age-related macular degeneration. People with cataracts often describe having cloudy or blurry vision or that colors seem faded. You’ll also want to see your eye doctor if you develop signs of an infection, such as a goopy discharge from your eyes or swollen eyelids.

Take Steps to Prevent Vision Loss From Smoking

Many of the effects of smoking on your eye health are reversible or will stop once you quit. Although quitting is hard, there are support groups available that can help you take this important step towards preserving your vision. Talking to your eye doctor and other physicians about your decision to quit smoking can put you in touch with resources that make the process easier. While you might experience a few stops and starts, making the choice to keep trying can have a tremendous impact on the health of your eyes.

It’s important to be honest with your eye care provider about your smoking, since the best ophthalmologist won’t judge you for your habit. Instead, they’ll be extra vigilant during their eye exams and may recommend additional testing to monitor your vision and eye health. While you work on quitting, working with your doctor to create a highly personalized eye care plan helps to prevent vision loss as you age.