Many smokers don't realize that their habit is one of the leading causes of cataracts and other vision loss related diseases. Other vision related diseases caused by smoking include macular degeneration, vascular diseases that cause vision loss, and even some instances of cross eyed children caused by mothers who smoke.
Smoking May Be Damaging Your Eyesight
Smoking is known to be a cause or contributor to a score of health related diseases and problems. Vision loss is one that many smokers suffer from
Our beliefs and actions cannot stay separate very long. One will conform to the other. If we believe something, yet do not act according to those beliefs, then our beliefs will change to conform to our actions. If we begin to learn something new, that goes against the way that we act, and we begin to believe it more and more, our actions will soon conform to that belief. Otherwise, we will forget that belief and continue to act contrary to it. The two cannot stay separate very long.
It is with this principle that I put forth the effort to educate those who are addicted to smoking about the effects of smoking on the eyes. First of all, smoking creates what are called oxygen free radicals. These elements from smoking are introduced into the bloodstream. They essentially attack and damage tissues in the back of the eye that the body uses to see colors, light, and movement. Smoking also restricts the flow of blood through the veins and capillaries of the body. This deprives the eyes and other parts of the body critical to vision of the blood and oxygen needed to function properly.
There are supplements that we get from food that serve to protect the different elements in the back of the eye. For instance, beta carotene is a supplement that is normally very good for eye health. However, when these supplements are combined with the oxygen free radicals introduced to the bloodstream through smoking, they act in a very different way. Research has found that smoking activates these otherwise healthy supplements in a way that actually causes cancer. Specifically, beta carotene is known to contribute to an increased risk of lung cancer when combined with smoking.
Macular degeneration, an incurable eye disease, is the leading cause of vision loss. It is characterized by the deterioration of the middle portion of the retina. The retina's function is to capture and transport the images we see from the eye to the brain via the optic nerve. Vasoconstriction, or the loss of blood flow caused by the narrowing of blood vessels is directly caused by smoking. This condition reduces the blood flow to the eyes leading to macular degeneration.
Cataracts form when the eye lens hardens and loses it's flexibility. As it does, a milky cloud forms within the eye lens. While about 50% of the population are likely to form cataracts by age 80, smokers have double the risk of getting cataracts and at an earlier age depending on when they started smoking. Tobacco smoke is an eye irritant. Over time, the irritation caused by tobacco smoke causes the eye lens to harden and form cataracts. Dry eye syndrome can also develop as a result of tobacco smoke irritation.
One last condition that I will mention is called Graves disease. Graves disease is an inflammation or swelling of the eyes due to hyperthyroidism. The inflammation presents itself in the form of swelling soft tissues and muscles surrounding the eyes that cause the eyes to bulge and sometimes protrude from the eye socket.
If you are a smoker, I would ask that you consider the value that you place on your health. Each day is a day to live life to the fullest and enjoy the beauty that the earth has to offer. Pain and suffering of one kind or another is inevitable for all of us at different times in our lives. However, smoking provides a voluntary invitation to unneeded suffering to yourself and others due to the conditions that it causes. Make today the day that you change for the better.