How Does Smoking Affect Your Eye Health?
People connect smoking with a wide range of health issues and there is a great deal of awareness regarding how it can impact the lungs and the heart, how it can harm your skin and how it speeds up the ageing process. However, there seems to be much less awareness regarding how smoking impacts eye health. Smokers are 42% more likely to get cataracts and four times more likely to develop age-related macular degeneration. It is clear that smokers are putting themselves at serious risk of causing life-changing damage to their eyesight and in the worst cases, blindness.
How does smoking damage eyes?
The chemicals within cigarettes such as arsenic, formaldehyde and ammonia travel through the bloodstream and damage the delicate cell structure of the eyes. This is basically speeding up the ageing process of your eyes. Smoking also leads to high blood pressure which damages blood vessels in the eye and reduces the amount of oxygen reaching the retina. Macular degeneration can be accelerated by smoking, so there are a number of major eye health problems that can develop from smoking.
Can the eye health effects of smoking be reversed?
Fortunately, research shows that stopping smoking can help to reverse some of the effects of smoking. In fact, if you stop smoking today, in 20 years time you will not have any significant increase in risk of age-related macular degeneration or cataracts compared to a non-smoker. As well as stopping smoking, improving your diet to include more leafy green veg will help to reduce the possibility of developing macular degeneration.
So, if you are worried about this, start to incorporate more veg like spinach and broccoli into your diet. Having a healthier, more balanced diet will bring a range of health benefits and should also help you to achieve a healthy weight and will reduce the chance of developing diabetes, which is another health problem that can lead to sight problems.
Time to quit?
Losing your vision is a very scary prospect and leads to a number of big lifestyle changes and limitations. There are a number of different types of support that you have access to via your GP if you are a smoker trying to quit. If you want to protect your long-term eye health, then it is better to act now than to try quitting later in life when the damage has started to take effect.
If you are worried that your eyesight has been affected by smoking then Buchanan Optometrists offer early macular degeneration detection screening. The 4D OCT eye scan is able to detect eye disease up to 8 years sooner than a standard eye test, giving more time for treatment and in some cases complete prevention. To find out more, make an appointment on 01634 757227.