Can Smoking Affect My Eyes or Vision?

Can Smoking Affect My Eyes or Vision?

May 22nd, 2023

Most people know that smoking can significantly impact human health in various ways. Just like the lungs and other parts of the body, the eyes can sustain serious damage due to smoking. 

Cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, or AMD, are the two most significant and serious eye conditions affecting smokers. Keep reading to learn more about how smoking can affect your eyes and vision!

What is Macular Degeneration?

The macula is a specific and important part of the retina that is responsible for your central vision. It often becomes thinner as you get older, and changes occur that affect your sight. 

Macular degeneration can affect one or both eyes. If it’s only present in one eye, the other eye will compensate, masking symptoms that may appear. 

Those who smoke cigarettes are up to four times more likely to develop AMD than people who don’t smoke.

What Are the Symptoms of AMD?

If you experience one or more of these symptoms, you may have macular degeneration:

  • A blurry or blind spot in your central vision in one or both eyes
  • Visual distortions, such as straight lines bending
  • Colors appearing not as intense or bright

Are There Different Types of Macular Degeneration?

The early stage of the disease is called dry macular degeneration. In addition to the macula thinning with age, small clumps of proteins and lipids called drusen appear. 

The later stage of the condition is wet macular degeneration. This involves the growth of abnormal blood vessels under the retina, which leak fluid into the retina. 

Wet macular degeneration can also lead to scarring of the macula. Vision loss is faster with wet AMD than with dry AMD.

What is a Cataract?

A healthy eye has a lens that’s colorless and transparent. It allows the eye to focus, making objects close up and far away crisp and sharp. 

The lens can grow cloudy and opaque as you age, reducing the amount of light entering the eye and causing your vision to appear blurry. The cloudy lens is called a cataract. 

Although cataracts are mostly associated with aging, certain factors, including smoking, can make you more likely to develop cataracts earlier in life. In fact, those who smoke cigarettes are two to three times more likely to develop cataracts than people who don’t smoke. 

Cataract surgery can replace the cloudy lens of the eye with an artificial lens, improving vision. However, preserving your vision with improved health habits can allow you to experience clear vision for longer.

What Are the Symptoms of Cataracts?

These are the most common cataract symptoms:

  • Blurry, hazy, cloudy parts of your vision
  • Colors that are faded, less intense, reduced, or have a yellowish tint
  • Greater sensitivity to light, especially when you drive at night
  • Double vision and ghosting of images
  • Difficulty seeing at night
  • Difficulty reading unless you use a stronger light source

Cataracts often occur so slowly that you may not notice these changes until they are significant. 

With such clear evidence linking smoking to both macular degeneration and cataracts, it’s another reason to consider quitting. Save your health and save your sight!

Are you experiencing vision changes that you think may be related to smoking? Schedule an appointment at Laser Eye Center in Huntsville, AL, today!