We all know that smoking is bad for you, but did you know that the chemicals in cigarettes can harm the most sensitive part of the retina, called the macula. Your vision can be irreversibly damaged when cells of the macula die or tiny blood vessels burst through it.
And this isn’t just for those who smoke, it deals with everyone who experiences second hand smoke. Many non-smokers experience the irritating effects smoking has on their eyes, from burning, watering, and itchy eyes to name a few, but little did they know, there are more effects than that.
What Smoking Can Do to Your Eyes and Vision
- Smoking causes inflammation of conjuctiva (the thin membrane covering the eye). Thus results in bloodshot eyes and also irritated eyes.
- There is a direct link between cataract and smoking. Smokers are at risk of developing cataract.
- Smoking is also linked to the eye disease referred to as macular degeneration. Macular degeneration is caused by cardiovascular disease and is a major cause of blindness in the West. Smoking causes cardiovascular disease.
- One needs to quit smoking to avoid the progress of diabetic retinopathy.
- Blood vessels shrink or get constricted due to smoking causing glaucoma as well as optic nerve damage.
- Chemicals get into the blood stream and burst through the macula (central part of the retina) or the cells in the macula die slowly. It eventually leads to loss of vision.
Getting rid of the smoking habit is the best way to protect one’s eyes. It is difficult to do so, but after all who wants to go blind. However, even if you find a method to quit smoking yourself, you still have to deal with second hand smoke from other people.
Suggested Ways to Quit Smoking
For some people smoking is simply a bad habit that they have gotten into. However, for some people smoking can be an addiction. For these people it becomes even more difficult to stop smoking. Many laws have been passed recently in the United States that prevents any smoking in work places or public areas such as restaurant and bars. These laws have drastically reduced the exposure to second hand smoke.
Nicotine patches and gums have also been shown to help some people stop smoking. These can be expensive and they don’t always work for all smokers. However, if you truly want to stop smoking they can help to reduce your craving for nicotine which is one of the main reasons people continue to smoke.
In recent years companies have developed electronic cigarettes which use water vapor and a nicotine mix to replace cigarette smoke. For some people these are an effective alternative to cigarettes and contain none of the damaging additives that cigarette smoke contains. They are also safe to use even around people who do not smoke. As an added benefit there is no heat or fire with this option so there is no chance of a fire being started accidentally.
Some people turn to prescription drugs to help them stop smoking. If this option appeals to your talk to your medical professional to find out more about the options you may have. Be sure to talk to them about possible side effects from the drugs.
Are There Other Dangers to Our Vision from Smoking?
While it may not actually effect your vision, you should be careful when taking vitamins or supplements that contain vitamin A if you are a smoker. Vitamin A is necessary for eye health and it is often included in eye supplements and eye vitamins. If you are a smoker, talk to your doctor before starting any vitamin or supplement.
Many people think that it is simply a matter of people not wanting to quit. This may not be the case at all. If you have tried all the methods you can find to try and quit smoking and they just aren’t working for you, at least try to take your smoking outside the house. Remember that you risk not only your own vision but that of your family as well if you are smoking in your home.