Smoking causes damage to the visual function as well. The spectrum is wide, from simple redness of eyes to profound loss of vision! It has been found that chances of developing blindness in old age are four fold in the smoking population than the non smokers.
Tobacco smoke contains reactive free radicals that cause oxidative damage to the body cells. There are two different populations of free radicals- one in the tar phase that are relatively stable and the other in the gas phase that are unstable and highly reactive. Free Radicals react with the DNA in the cells causing molecular injury.
- Smoke causes irritation to the surface tissues of the eye leading to dilatation of blood vessels, puffiness of lids and watering. Pre- existing Dry Eye Disease gets aggravated by smoking and is also an important cause of the same.
- Cataract chances in a smoker are two times that of a non smoker. Lens proteins get coagulated due to free radical injury.
- Uveitis, inflammation of inner, vascular coat of the eye is also twice as common in smokers as compared to the normal population.
- Glaucoma, a disorder of optic nerve often characterised by high pressures in the eye is associated with tobacco smoking. Smoking further damages the already compromised optic nerve!
- Detachment of Retina has been found two times more often in smokers. Incidence of Age Related Macular Degeneration (ARMD) is three times more in the smoking population.
- Cyanide in tobacco smoke can cause irreversible damage to the Optic Nerve, a condition known as tobacco amblyopia.
Unfortunately tobacco use in forms other than smoking also causes damage to the visual function in the same way!
The tobacco related damage is significant to the structure and functioning of delicate eye tissues. It is a matter of choice alone to prevent this much avoidable damage.
Stop smoking now...and forever!