Cigarettes can have an adverse effect on our health, but not everyone is aware that smoking cigarettes can have a negative effect on our vision. Research has shown that smoking cigarettes can affect our natural lens, the focusing structure within our eye. Damage to the lens can lead to deterioration or opacification, leading to decreased vision, increased glare at night, and decreased accommodative (focusing) ability. Additionally, smoking can lower the amount of oxygen that is able to reach your eye which can decrease tear production and cause dry eye.
Recently, a study was done by a team of researchers in Sweden who wanted to know if there is a correlation between former smokers and their risk for cataract formation. This study followed an approximate 45,000 subjects. They found that men who currently smoke more than 15 cigarettes a day have a 42% greater risk of having cataract surgery than men who had never smoked. For those who have quit smoking for more than 20 years, it was found that they were at 20% greater risk for cataract formation compared to men who had never smoked. For men who had been light smokers, the increased risk of cataract formation fell more quickly after quitting. Their research has shown that the risk of former smokers developing cataracts had decreased to about half 20 years after quitting. According to this study it takes a longer time for the lens to recover with higher smoking intensity.
Importantly, smoking cigarettes will not only affect the smoker, but anyone living in the same household. Today, second hand smoke is considered a Class A Carcinogen. A person who is exposed to second hand smoke is at a greater risk to be diagnosed with tobacco-cigarette related illnesses such as asthma, lung cancer and cataracts.
Blog contribution by NataliaTemboni , Optometry Intern, College of Optometry ,Western University of Health Sciences