Smoking is one of the biggest causes of death and illness in the UK, according to the NHS.
Every year around 78,000 people in the UK die from smoking, with many more living with debilitating smoking-related illnesses.
Smoking increases your risk of developing more than 50 serious health conditions, including cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung diseases, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
Smoking also increases risk for tuberculosis and problems of the immune system, including rheumatoid arthritis.
The nasty habit is said to also cause major damage to your eyes, potentially leading to total loss of vision.
“Smoking tobacco is known and proven to have many negative effects on the body, including your eyesight,” says contact lens optician Sujata Paul from Lenstore.
“Smoking can increase your risk of serious eye conditions that in some cases may lead to permanent vision loss, including AMD (age-related macular degeneration), cataracts and glaucoma.
“On a short-term perspective, tobacco smoke can also cause dry eye syndrome, leading to irritated and painful eyes.”
Cigarettes are known to have harmful metals that not only damage the front of the eye but can severely affect the blood vessels that supply nutrients to the eye.
This is because nicotine and carbon monoxide interfere with the blood vessels, accelerating a condition called atherosclerosis.
Atherosclerosis causes plaque to build up in the blood vessels, preventing them from being able to supply adequate blood to the body’s organs.
If this happens in the eyes, it can lead to a change in eyesight.
Dangers of vaping
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When asked how vaping could affect the eyes, Sujata warned: “Vaping causes oxidative stress in the eyes. Oxidative stress occurs when there is an imbalance in your oxygen levels.
“Like anywhere else in the body, additional stress can have negative effects on your health.
“Overtime, vaping will increase your risk of cataracts, macular degeneration and even glaucoma.
“Glaucoma reduces your vision and can even result in permanent blindness if left untreated.”
And vaping isn't much better for your eye health.
A study by the University of California found that using e-cigarettes can cause damage to the eyes.
It found that vapers were 34% more likely to experience damaged eyesight than those who didn’t vape.
The reason behind this is because e-cigarettes and vapes, used by around 2.7 million people in the UK, contain harmful chemicals.
How to quit smoking or vaping
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According to Sujata, the best tips to kick the smoking habit and reduce your risk of eye damage are:
- Set the date
- Throw away all cigarettes and tobacco products
- Seek help from your doctor.
“If you begin to notice changes in your eyesight such as blurry spots in your central vision, needing more light to read and straight lines beginning to appear wavy, an eye exam is often the most effective method to spotting any eye diseases early" she explained.
“Additionally, doctors may also give you injections into your eye that prevent any further damage.
“Some patients may even need these on a regular basis to save their vision.”
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