Smoking can lead to vision loss or blindness

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How Smoking Harms Your Eyes

Smoking and passive smoking can lead to eye conditions in both children and adults

Smoke from a single cigarette is believed to contain approximately 4000 chemicals. This means that when you smoke, these chemicals are released into your blood stream as well as the air around you. This is bad news for your eyes and those around you.

Passive smoking can have a particularly negative effect on children’s eyes, causing Strabismus (misaligned eyes) and Allergic Conjunctivitis (when the conjunctiva becomes inflamed).

The eye conditions that adults who smoke are at risk of are:

  • Cataracts –  the clouding of the lens of the eye. The treatment for cataracts is generally eye surgery and those who smoke are 3 times more likely to develop the condition.
  • Uveitis – When the uvea (middle section) of the eye becomes inflamed. The treatment for uveitis tends to include effective steroid cream. However the condition can be painful and result in permanent loss of vision.
  • Age Related Macular Degeneration – A painless eye condition that affects central vision and leads to irreversible blindness.
  • Graves’ Ophthalmopathy (thyroid eye disease) – Inflammation of the eye and fat in the eye socket. The more an individual smokes, the more likely they are to develop this condition.
  • Ocular surface disorders – Symptoms such as itchy eyes, redness and soreness. Smoking can change the eye’s ocular surface and include changes to the tear film, reduce tear secretion and reduce corneal and conjunctival sensitivity.

Those exposed to passive smoke on a regular basis are also at risk of developing the majority of the above.


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