How Smoking Harms Your Eyes

Smoking is the leading cause of disease in North America. The health effects of smoking such as heart disease and cancer are all too familiar but the effects on your vision are not as well known. Some of the most common problems associated with smoking are cataracts, macular degeneration, uveitis and dry eyes.

Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness around the world. Cataracts are clouding of the eyes natural lens which lies behind the iris and the pupil. There are three types of cataracts, a subscapular cataract occurs at the back of the lens, a nuclear cataract forms deep in the nucleus (center) of the lens and a cortical cataract is characterized by white, wedge-like opacities that start in the periphery of the lens and work their way to the center in a spoke-like fashion.

Macular degeneration affects the center of the retina which is responsible for sharp, central vision needed for everyday tasks such as reading and driving. Some studies have shown that smokers are three times more likely to get macular degeneration.

Uveitis is inflammation of the uvea (middle layer of the eye) and is can be serious enough that can result in complete vision loss. It harms vital structures of the eye, including theiris and retina, and can lead to complications such as cataract, glaucoma and retinal detachment.