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The Dangerous Side Effects That Smoking Can Have On Vision

October 18, 2012

Smoking can cause very serious health concerns for your eyes and vision.

It is no small secret that smoking a cigarette, pipe or any other kind of tobacco product can be seriously damaging to your overall health and well being. New studies come out day after day detailing the serious cardiovascular disorders and cancers that are commonly associated with this bad habit. However, while the effects that tobacco can have on your health are well known, many people do not realize that smoking can also seriously increase your risk for developing a large number of eye disorders and diseases.

There are many strong links between several diseases of the eye and smoking. This is mostly because cigarette smoke enhances oxidants in our bodies, which are the chemical byproducts in our body that can damage cells, including those found in the eyes. For many smokers, this can result is serious, progressive disorders of the eye that can lead to damaging and total vision loss.

Unfortunately, this increased risk of eye disorders is not limited to those who smoke frequently, but also anyone who is exposed to second-hand tobacco smoke.

To help give you a better understanding of the dangerous side effects that smoking can have both on your health and your vision, we have put together just a few examples of the serious eye disorders and diseases that are common among those who smoke.


A recent study from China titled “Smoking and Risk of Age-related Cataract: A Meta-analysis” found that smoking cigarettes can increase a person’s risk for developing age-related cataracts. In fact, smoking is associated with a 3-fold increased risk of developing a nuclear cataract―a serious clouding on the lens that forms in the center and spreads outward, causing dimmed, blurry and distorted vision. Studies also found that the more frequently and longer that people smoked, the higher their risk became for developing cataracts.

Thyroid Eye Disease

For many people who already have existing diseases or health problems, smoking can often cause additional problems for your vision. For instance, people with thyroid disease are at a much higher risk of developing thyroid eye disease if they smoke cigarettes. This is because Graves’ Disease, the most common form of hyperthyroidism, can sometimes cause inflammation and swelling in the soft tissues and muscles surrounding the eyes. This can cause the eyeballs to bulge or protrude from their sockets.

Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Smoking has also been found to be a direct cause of age-related macular degeneration (AMD)―a condition that slowly destroys the macular (the specialized part of the eye in the center of the retina that allows you to see fine detail). Over time, AMD can cause you to lose your central line of vision. However, the risk of developing this serious disease was reversed among those who quit smoking.

Research has also concluding that smoking is a definitive cause of many other serious problems that can affect the health of your eyes and vision. Therefore, to ensure that your eyes are as healthy as possible as you get older, be sure to think twice about the serious side effects that smoking can cause before it is too late.


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