Cigarette Smoking Can Cause Glaucoma-Like Eye Damage

October 12, 2018 • 0 comments

Smoking cigarettes is well known to be a general health detriment, which can lead to a host of specific problems. Signs of premature aging, such as dry skin and early, widespread wrinkling, are one risk. More serious conditions, like lung cancer and chronic pulmonary disease (emphysema), also become significantly more likely.

While most are aware of some of the other health effects of smoking, far fewer realize the effect that smoking can have on their eyes. At La Jolla Lasik, we are acutely aware of this risk factor, and we see it as yet one further reason to quit smoking as soon as possible.

Eye Conditions With Increased Risk for Smokers

As compared with nonsmokers, smokers run a significantly higher risk of developing cataracts. A cataract is a cloudy area on an eye’s lens, which will blur vision and ultimately lead to the need for surgery. Cataracts naturally grow progressively worse once they first develop, and they must be physically removed to eliminate the cloudiness. Smoking can double your risk of getting a cataract.

Smokers are three times more likely to develop age-related macular degeneration (AMD). AMD causes blind spots in the central retina, which lead to loss of central vision capabilities. AMD is the number one cause of vision loss inU.S. patients aged 65 and up, which indicates the particularly high risk of AMD for seniors who continue to smoke.

There are many other eye conditions that smokers are at a higher risk of developing, such as dry eyes and diabetic retinopathy. Suffice it to say that smoking is not healthy for your eyes.

Smoking-Related Glaucoma Symptoms

One recent study has indicated that a connection exists between smoking and eye damage that closely resembles early-stage glaucoma symptoms. Glaucomainvolves heightened intraocular pressure levels. This means that the optic nerve, which connects the eye to the brain, is put under excessive pressure. Since images are relayed from eye to brain along via nerve impulses along the optic nerve, Glaucoma can ultimately cut off this connection and lead to blindness.

The study’s research team reports that the retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL) is significantly affected by smoking. The RNFL collects visual data from the eye’s photoreceptors and ganglion cells and directs it to the optic nerve. The study found that smokers had an RNFL that was significantly thinner than those of non-smokers, on average, and a thinned-down RNFL is a symptom associated with glaucoma as well as certain other eye conditions.

Have Your Eye Health Evaluated

Quitting smoking today is one of the best things you can do to help improve the health of your eyes. Even those who have smoked for many years will see positive results and may avoid future problems by giving up the smoking habit.

A second important step to take to guard the health of your eyes is simply to have your eyesight evaluated. At La Jolla Lasik, we have experienced ophthalmologists on-staff who have the skills necessary to accurately assess the health of your eyes. If any problems are found, we can recommend to you thebest treatment options for each type of eye condition, including glaucoma and AMD.

La Jolla Lasik offers you this assessment on a complimentary basis, and we will be happy to address all of your eye-related questions and concerns as well.


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