While it is common knowledge that smoking can be damaging to our health, many people are unaware that smokers are at a much greater risk of developing eye health problems compared to non-smokers. Early onset of Age-related macular degeneration and cataracts are one of the leading causes of blindness and visual impairment worldwide.
Tobacco smoke is made up of toxic chemicals that are potentially damaging to the eyes. The nicotine poisons the optic nerve and over time, severely impairs eyesight.
Age-related Macular Degeneration
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a disease affecting the macula, the central part of the retina at the back of the eye that enables everyday vision such as reading, driving and face recognition. Smokers are four times more likely of developing age-related macular degeneration compared to non-smokers. Currently their is no found cure for the disease, reducing or stopping tobacco use is the most important preventable risk factor to date.
Cataracts is where the lens of the eye becomes cloudy causing blurred distance vision, sensitivity to glare, loss of contrast and difficulty seeing colours. While cataracts usually develop with age and can be genetic, they can be accelerated by factors such as smoking. The only treatment for cataracts is surgical removal of the lens, however, ones risk can be substantially reduced if exposure to factors known to promote cataract formation – like smoking – are avoided.
For help to quit call the Quitline on 13 78 48