The Harmful Effects of Smoking on the Eye - Health Education - DesiMD Healthcare - India

The Harmful Effects of Smoking on the Eye

Dr.Kasu Prasad Reddy profile Authored by Dr.Kasu Prasad Reddy on 11 Mar 2015 - 10:28.

Smoky Eye

You can develop a smoky eye when your mind is clouded. Your vision can become smoky with the ill effects of smoking, but first your mind should be clear to understand and see through the facts. According to World Health Organization, 100 million deaths over the course of the 20th century are due to smoking.

For a real fact in my life, my father who was a chain smoker lived as long as 72 and died due to Stroke followed by lung problems and my friend, also a chain smoker, died at 35 as his heart couldn't take it any longer. As we all know, disease is dictated by the genes we inherit and the environment that we live in. Therefore strong genes, weak genes, good environment, bad environment, every which way, smoking is bad and it Kills! My father’s genes were good but the bad environment of chain smoking killed him and my friends poor genes accompanied by unhealthy environment of smoke, killed him at that early age.

Smoking, to our little minds is tobacco, nicotine (among thousands of chemicals) and habit forming, meaning addiction. While everyone knows that addiction to smoking is harmful to our heart, lungs and liver and also a major risk factor for heart attacks, strokes, bronchitis, cancer, impotence etc., not many know it is very harmful to the eyes as well.

Eyes are the windows of the human body and are diagnostic tools for finding out many conditions like blood pressure, diabetes, heart diseases, blinding effects of drugs used for TB etc. Smoking affects the eyes and it was statistically proved that ARMD (Age Related Macular Disease) is 3 to 4 times more among smokers, Cataracts are three times more, and Glaucoma, Dry eyes twice as much. Atherosclerosis, commonly known as hardening of the arteries gets effected by smoking, three times more.

Atherosclerosis is caused when a waxy substance called plaque, builds up on the inner walls of the arteries (Blood vessels that supply oxygen), thus narrowing the lumen of the blood vessels and reducing the flow of oxygenated blood. The chemicals in the tobacco are primarily responsible for building up of plaque.

The plaque while narrowing the lumen can sometimes get dislodged and becomes an emboli, that is a floating plaque. These free floating emboli can block the lumen of smaller blood vessels of the eye and completely block the supply of oxygenated blood to the photographic layer of the eye, the retina and make the individual totally and suddenly blind. Eye balls are highly vascularised and when smoking affects the blood vessels, the effect can be microvascular (on small blood vessels) or macro vascular (on bigger blood vessels).

The transient attacks of blindness, that recovers due to blocked blood vessels is called Amaurosis Fugax. When the eyes of these patients are examined, doctors find small floating emboli as shining particles in the retina and are called Hollenhorst Plaques. When these emboli block the larger blood vessels like the Central Retinal Artery (main artery to the eye) blocking the oxygenated blood to the complete retina, it is called Central Retinal Artery Occlusion (CRAO) and leads to total blindness.

Smoking in pregnancy is even worse and an irresponsible act towards the offspring. Smokers with high cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes are more at risk of complications, secondary to smoking.

An adage says what the mind doesn't know the eyes can't see. This is very true, but now that your mind knows a little about the ill effects of smoking, it is time you quit smoking for your own health and for your dear one’s sake.



*Disclaimer: This is not medical advice. The content is for educational purposes only. Please contact your doctor for any health care issues.