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Does smoking affect the eyes? Find out here

Smoking is the 4th leading cause of non-communicable diseases like cancer and heart diseases, which contributes to 53 per cent of all deaths in India, says  Dr Aaradhana Reddy Vitreo - Retina Surgeon, Sadhuram Eye Hospital, Hyderabad.

By: Lifestyle Desk | New Delhi |
April 2, 2022 6:20:03 pm
smoke toxinsToxins present in cigarette smoke end up getting into the bloodstream which is distributed across the body including the eyes. (Photo: Pixabay)

It is estimated that 34.6 per cent of adults in India are smokers, and smoking kills over 1 million people in the country on an annual basis.

“Smoking is the 4th leading cause of non-communicable diseases like cancer and heart diseases, which contributes to 53 per cent of all deaths in India. While many people are aware of the adverse consequences of smoking (cancer, respiratory diseases, cardiovascular diseases, etc.), few are aware that smoking can equally affect the eyes and lead to vision loss,” said Dr Aaradhana Reddy Vitreo – Retina Surgeon, Sadhuram Eye Hospital, Hyderabad.

smoking vision Smoking can equally affect the eyes and lead to vision loss. (Source: Getty Images/Thinkstock)

The expert explained that the toxins present in cigarette smoke end up getting into the bloodstream which is distributed across the body including the eyes.

“This can cause different types of eye problems like dry eye, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration and optic nerve issues. The majority of such cases can also lead to permanent blindness if adequate measures are not taken in time. In addition, tobacco smoke can also affect the tissues present around the eyes causing disorder of the eyelids and under-eye puffiness,” she said.

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Type of eye issues that smoking can cause

Tobacco smoke contains over 7,000 dangerous chemicals, some of which can be extremely detrimental to eye health. Here are some of the eye disorders that can result from smoking:

Dry eye: Dry eye occurs when a sufficient amount of tears cannot be produced by the eyes to lubricate the eye surface.

smoking cataract Smoking also increases the risk of cataracts at any age. (Source: Getty Images/Thinkstock)

Symptoms of the dry eye usually include redness, gritty feeling, general discomfort and stinging. Tobacco smoke is a major contributor to dry eye as it can break down the lipid layer of the tear film.

Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD): AMD starts with a loss of central vision which makes it difficult for a person to see fine details and read. Over the passage of time, vision loss increases considerably.

Among the 2 types of AMD (dry and wet), dry AMD happens to be quite common. In the case of dry AMD, fatty deposits begin to assemble under the light-sensing cells in the back of the eye (retina).

In dry AMD, vision loss usually gets worse gradually. When it comes to wet AMD, tiny blood vessels under the retina break open or leak. This changes vision and causes scar tissue to form.

Cataract: Smoking increases the risk of cataracts at any age. Cataract can be defined as a clouding of the eye’s naturally clear lens. Cataract usually gets worse when people get older.

World glaucoma day 2021, when is world glaucoma day, what is glaucoma, glaucoma symptoms, myths related to glaucoma, indianexpress.com, indianexpress, A study in 2018, found out that the more cigarettes regular smokers smoked, the greater are the chances of developing glaucoma.(Source: Getty Images/Thinkstock)

Appearing mostly in aged people and those who smoke, cataracts can cause opaque and blurred vision which can be corrected by surgery.

Glaucoma: Glaucoma happens to be a group of eye diseases caused by increased pressure inside the eye. The increased pressure is usually due to the build-up of excess fluid inside the eye.

The primary concern with the increased pressure is that it damages the optic nerve, which is the only connection between the brain and the eyes.

A study in 2018, found out that the more cigarettes regular smokers smoked, the greater are the chances of developing glaucoma.

What can be done to protect the eyes?

There are quite a few measures smokers can take to protect their eyes from damage. Here are a few tips:

Quit or reduce smoking: An obvious suggestion is to quit or reduce smoking. This not only helps the person who smokes but even those around him to protect their eyes from damage.

A diet rich in vitamin C, E, zinc, omega 3 fatty acids, etc. can help in reducing chances of damage to the eyes. (Source: Getty Images/Thinkstock)

Healthy diet: Diet plays an important role in the overall health of the eyes. A diet rich in vitamin C, E, zinc, omega 3 fatty acids, etc. can help in reducing chances of damage to the eyes.

Reduced screen time: Apart from smoking, other practices and activities can cause damage to the eyes. Looking at screens for an extended period of time is one of them.

Laptop, smart watch, screen time Most screens such as TVs, smartphones, laptops, etc. emit blue light, which can be extremely harmful to the eyes. One must ensure limited screen time and also exercise the eyes regularly to reduce damage. (Source: Pexels)

Most screens such as TVs, smartphones, laptops, etc. emit blue light, which can be extremely harmful to the eyes. One must ensure limited screen time and also exercise the eyes regularly to reduce damage.

Regular eye examination: Regular eye check-ups are important to keep the eyes safe. Toxic elements can accumulate on the lens of the eyes and it is only through regular check-ups one can avoid damage to the eyes.

“Apart from worsening the health of the eyes, smoking contributes significantly to the development of other diseases that at times can be fatal. It is always a good idea to quit smoking or seek professional help to get rid of the habit to protect the vision as well as overall health,” said Dr Aaradhana Reddy Vitreo

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📣 The above article is for information purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional for any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition.

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