Everyone knows that smoking causes lung cancer, emphysema (COPD), bronchitis, heart attacks, and stroke, but did you know that it also causes blindness?
If you smoke, you are at higher risk for:
Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD), the most common cause of legal blindness in the United States. Also, if you smoke and have AMD, it is likely to be more severe than if you do not smoke. There is treatment for some forms of AMD, but those treatments do not cure the disease and it involves and ongoing series of injections directly into the eye. If you stop smoking, your risk of AMD will be less.
Cataracts. Smokers tend to have cataracts at a younger age than non-smokers, and are more likely to need cataract surgery than non-smokers. Cataract surgery is a very successful operation in most cases, but it is an inconvenience, there may be costs associated with it, and it has risks, some of which are serious.
Retinal Vein Occlusion or Retinal Artery Occulsion. These are diseases in which a tiny blood vessel in the retina becomes clogged. This is similar to having a stroke, but in the eye. Sometimes these conditions can be treated with eye injections or lasers, but many people end up with permanent vision loss or blindness.
Graves disease, a disfiguring and vision threatening complication of hyperthyroidism. This condition can be treated in some cases, by surgery, or radiation or steroid medication. It can result in permanent change in your appearance and permanent vision loss.
Diabetic Retinopathy, one of the leading causes of blindness in the United States and worldwide. Diabetic retinopathy can be treated with eye injections and laser, but the treatment is not always successful, and permanent vision loss is common among people with this condition.
Ischemic Optic Neuropathy. This is a disease of the optic nerve, and it is the result of a blockage in a blood vessel inside the optic nerve. There is no treatment for this condition and it can lead to permanent vision loss and blindness.
This is only a partial list of the ways that smoking can damage your eyes. The bottom line is this:
Smoking can cause blindness, and if you can stop smoking you will be less likely to become blind.