Health risks from smoking are well known, but little attention is paid to the increased risk of eye disease and potential for blindness.
Smoking has detrimental effects on the cardiovascular system and can affect the small blood vessels that line the retina in the back of the eye. Increased high blood pressure and risk of stroke are directly linked to smoking, which can destroy the delicate blood vessels inside the eye and can lead to blindness.
The risk of age-related disease such as macular degeneration and cataracts is greatly increased in those who smoke, as well as certain cancers of the eye. Smoking increases the risk of serious vision loss in people with other eye diseases. When women smoke during pregnancy, they are more likely to give birth prematurely, putting their babies at higher risk for a potentially blinding disease called retinopathy of prematurity. Smokers are more likely to have dry eye and irritating eye symptoms than non-smokers, not to mention others who are around smoke and get red, irritated eyes.
Quitting smoking, or not starting in the first place, is a way to ensure that good vision is maintained for as long as possible, for you, and your friends and family members, who are negatively affected by exposure to second-hand smoke.
Doctor Richard Barlett's practice is Vision Source Planet Eyewear located in Flower Mound, TX.