Bad habits, we all have them, but “Healthy People 2020” has set a goal to make sure smoking isn’t one of them. A new study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that, while progress is being made, smoking and tobacco use remain a concern for the health of millions of Americans.
While most know that smoking isn’t healthy, you may not know it’s also dangerous for healthy eyes and vision. Adding eyesight challenges to tobacco smoke’s already long list of hard-hitting effects, and the risks continue to increase the more you smoke.
Smoking makes for itchy, watery eyes, which can be a nuisance. But more importantly, smoking escalates the risk for vision-threatening eye diseases such as cataracts and macular degeneration.
Cataracts cloud your eyes natural lens, and the only way it can be corrected is through surgery to replace it with an artificial intraocular lens.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the deterioration of the macula, the essential part of the retina that provides sharp vision and causes permanent vision loss. Living with AMD can make it difficult or impossible to read, recognize faces and colors.
For those with diabetes, smoking could increase the risk of diabetic retinopathy—irreversible vision damage done to the retina. It is the leading cause of blindness among U.S. working-aged adults aged 20–74 years. An estimated 4.1 million and 899,000 Americans are affected by retinopathy, according to the CDC.
There’s also evidence that women who smoke during pregnancy increase the chance that their baby will be born with ocular disease or a visual impairment that could affect their learning.
The good news is that quitting smoking has immediate results on your health, and it’s never too late to stop! Once you break the habit, your body will begin to try and repair itself.
Are you trying to quit? The American Cancer Society has helpful tips.
This is a guest post by VSP employee Laurel G.