Role Of Smoking In Vision Loss


Cigarette smoking is considered to be one of the most important risk factors for human health in developed countries and an important cause of various eye disorders. Cigarette smoking contains thousands of chemicals and many of them are toxic. It contains harmful free radicals that damage lens proteins and the fiber cell membrane in the lens. Smoking is responsible for the prolonged attack on the eyes that can lead to the development of various eye disorders that can ultimately lead to vision loss.

 Role Of Smoking In Vision Loss

Smoking and Cataracts

A cataract is a condition in which the clouding of the eye lens occurs and causes vision problems. Cigarette contains thousands of chemicals like nicotine, formaldehyde, ammonia and hydrogen sulfide that reacts like an irritant or inflammatory agent that affects the flow of blood and restricted blood flow to the retina causes decreased eyesight. The lens of the eye consists of water and proteins and when the cataract develops, it makes the lens cloudy due to protein clumping together. It blocks the light and the vision is disrupted. Common symptoms that are present due to the development of cataract include double vision, halos, blurriness, glare, redness, irritation, and difficulty with colors. There are some effects of cigarette smoking that can be detected immediately, it hits the membrane of the eyes and immediately causes irritation and redness. Smoking also reduces the body’s level of antioxidants and the enzymes that help to remove damaged proteins from the lens. Also, the chemicals that are present in smoking affects the internal structures that contribute to vision such as the optic chiasm in the brain.

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Smoking and Diabetic retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is one of the complications of diabetes and it is an eye condition in which an elevated blood sugar level in the body leads to the swelling in the eyes and leak in the retina. In the United States, it is considered to be one of the leading cause of blindness in aged patients who suffers from diabetes mellitus. Diabetic retinopathy occurs when diabetes or the high blood sugar level damages the tiny blood vessels that are present in the retina. Retina plays an important role in the vision as it detects the light and signals the brain through the optic nerve. Smoking is known to be one of the leading cause of an elevated sugar level in the blood as it causes insulin resistance. Insulin resistance means that the body requires more insulin order to normalize the blood sugar level. Insulin resistance is mainly caused due to the presence of nicotine in cigarette smoking. Cigarette smoking not only causes diabetic retinopathy but it also leads to the disease to progress faster. Diabetic retinopathy doesn’t have any symptoms at an early age but as the disease progresses it causes blurred vision and appearance of floating spots.

Smoking and Age-related macular degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration causes vision loss and damage to the macula which is a small spot near the center of the retina. Macula has a high concentration of photoreceptor cells, cells which detect light and hence, is responsible for the central vision and most of the color vision and exact details are connected to the macula. This eye disorder is of two types, dry and wet age-related macular degeneration. Dry-type is a gradual deterioration of the macula as the cells of the retina dies and doesn’t renew and wet type occurs when abnormal blood vessels grow into the macula. Age-related macular degeneration is a complex, degenerative and progressive disease and cigarette smoking is the strongest environmental risk factor for developing this eye disorder. The current smokers may develop this eye disorder ten years earlier than non smokers. Cigarette smoking causes non-oxidative chemical damage to the retina and impairs the choroidal vessel and diminishes the choroidal blood flow that plays a role in the development of age-related macular degeneration.

Smoking and Uveitis

Uveitis is an inflammation of the uveal tract that consists of the choroid, the ciliary body, and the iris. In the United States, millions of people are diagnosed with uveitis and the majority of females is more in the diagnosed cases as compared to males. Uveitis is classified into anterior and posterior uveitis. People who suffer uveitis often experience painful red eye, decreased vision and there can be pupillary constrictions, photophobia, and tearing. Blurred vision and floaters in the uveitis patients can be due to the clouding of the ocular media flare and cells in the anterior chamber and vitreous. It is well known that cigarette smoking contains thousands of chemicals and increases the risk of developing uveitis and damage to the eyes. It is considered to be one of the major risk factors of developing eye symptoms as it contains many compounds that are toxic and irritative.





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