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The Effects of Smoking on Vision

Smoking is a habit that has several negative implications for our health. One that many people aren’t aware of is the effect of smoking on their eyes and vision. If you are looking for a good reason to stop smoking, or to get someone you care about to quit, here are some facts.

Smoking – or even being exposed to tobacco smoke – can increase your risk of developing a number of eye disorders and diseases. Open your eyes to the effects of smoking on vision. Let’s look at what smoking does to your eyes, from bad to worse;

He says there are several ways to prevent lenses from fogging up, with some being more effective than others. Washing glasses with soapy water and drying them with a microfiber cloth can be helpful but it could affect coatings that are applied to the lenses.

While there are various microfiber type cloths available on the market, Naude says not all of them are effective in preventing fogging. However, Dynamic Vision optometrists rather recommend spectacle lenses that is specifically designed not to fog up .

According to Naude, lens manufacturers are researching and introducing solutions. One of the most exciting is SEIKO’s FogLessCoat lens. In contrast to other unsatisfactory anti-fogging solutions on the market, this lens distributes moisture evenly by reducing the surface tension on both sides of the lens. Condensation can thus evaporate more quickly, allowing the lenses to remain transparent all the time. This way, the coating reliably keeps the wearer’s vision sharp, safe and fog free without having to continually demist the lenses manually.

Dry and allergic eyes

Ever noticed how smokers have red eyes? That’s quite normal for smokers. The redness is caused by the tobacco smoke which irritates eyes and causes chronic redness, dry eye syndrome and allergic eye conditions. Smoking can literally make you cry. Smoke can change the tear film of your eyes making it toxic, even if you are inhaling someone else’s smoke. Your eyes respond by producing reflex tears to wash away the toxin.

Impaired colour differentiation

By smoking a lot, you could battle to distinguish between colours and contrasts. People who smoke more than a pack a day may suffer from reduced thickness in the layers of their brain that process vision. This is the suspected cause of impaired colour differentiation in heavy smokers. Optic neuritis, the result of lack of oxygen in the eyes, could also contribute to the loss of colour vision often seen in smokers.

Cataracts are more common

Smokers are more prone to cataracts, a leading cause of blindness in South Africa. You increase your chances of developing cataracts if you smoke because smoking influences the supply of antioxidants to your eyes. This can accelerate the formation of cataracts which cause double vision, poor night vision, and clouded lenses. Colours can also appear faded.

Growing risk of glaucoma

There is also a link between smoking and high blood pressure, cataracts and diabetes – all of which are risk factors for glaucoma, a condition that causes damage to the eye’s optic nerve and gets worse over time. It can lead to permanent vision loss.

Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) speeds up

AMD occurs when the central area of the retina becomes damaged, causing severe vision loss and even blindness. This serious eye condition occurs four times more often in smokers than non-smokers. Just living with someone who smokes could double your risk. Smoke disrupts blood flow to the retina, which can speed up AMD. Studies have shown that on average, AMD occurs about five years earlier in smokers than in those who don’t smoke.

Faster onset of optic neuropathy

Smokers are 16 times more likely to develop optic neuropathy, and earlier too. Optic neuropathy occurs when the eye’s blood vessels are blocked, causing sudden loss of vision. What makes this condition so sinister is that blindness caused by optic neuropathy can be irreversible if left untreated for a day or two.

Can you stop the effects of smoking on vision?

The truth is that no amount of healthy exercise, fresh air or nutrients can stop the negative effects of smoking on vision. Supplementing with vitamins and antioxidants won’t help either. The more, and the longer, you smoke, the greater your risks of developing vision problems associated with smoking. Your smoking not only affects your eyes but the eyes of the loved ones very close to you.

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