As a smoker, you probably get inundated by family and other well-meaning people telling you about lung cancer, heart disease, and other risks involved with smoking to encourage you to quit. What you often don’t hear about, however, is that smoking can damage your eyesight, too. The resulting vision problems may not end your life as smoking-caused diseases can, but they can certainly affect your quality of life. Here are a few of the vision problems that smokers are more susceptible to:
- Retinopathy – Smoking doesn’t cause this directly, but it does increase the chance of diabetes by as much as 40 percent. Diabetic retinopathy can lead to blindness as the damaged blood vessels starve the oxygen the cells in the retina need.
- Cataracts – Although cataracts are surgically removable to reverse the vision problems involved, it is important to note that smokers have double the risk of developing cataracts. If you are a heavy smoker, your risk is tripled. Untreated cataracts lead to blindness, making them the leading cause of blindness in the world.
- Macular Degeneration – While this is a disease with devastating effects, leading to irreversible blindness, it is largely age-related. If you are a smoker, you stand the chance of it developing as much as 10 years sooner. If you quit now, your risk will drop by six percent after just one year.
If you are a smoker, quitting is the right choice for your vision health to lower your chances of vision problems. However, at the very least, be sure to keep regular appointments with your optometrist here at Dr. Miller & Dr. Tilis Family Optometry. We can alert you to signs of diabetes that show up in the eyes, as well as check for cataracts and macular degeneration. Call us today to schedule your appointment and get any questions you may have addressed.