Smoking and the Risk of Retinal Conditions
Most people could write a long list of ways that smoking can harm the body. Most people know that smoking can increase the risk of conditions like cancer, heart disease, and stroke. Many do not know that smoking can increase the risk of vision loss.
Smoking increases the risk of retinal conditions and other eye diseases. These diseases and retinal conditions compromise eye functions and can lead to partial or complete vision loss. The experienced eye doctors at Retina Associates, P.A. provide our Kansas City, MO patients with information regarding which conditions are more likely in smokers, and what steps they can take to preserve clear vision.
Age-related Macular Degeneration
Age-related macular degeneration, or AMD, is a condition that causes the loss of central vision, which makes it difficult for people to process fine details.
Individuals may suffer from either dry or wet AMD. Dry AMD is caused by a deterioration of tissues within the retina, while wet AMD is caused by leaky blood vessels beneath the retina.
Smokers are more likely to develop some form of AMD than non-smokers. Non-smokers who live with smokers also have an increased risk of developing this disease.
Diabetic retinopathy is a potential complication of diabetes, and is especially likely among our Kansas City patients who don’t keep their blood sugar levels under control.
Diabetic retinopathy can damage blood vessels within the retina, causing them to breakdown, leak, or become blocked. Diabetic retinopathy can cause flashes or floaters within the field of vision, general blurriness, and eventually total blindness.
Smoking increases the risk of diabetes, and also makes it more difficult to control blood sugar levels, both of which makes diabetic retinopathy a concern.
Glaucoma is not defined as a retinal condition, but this disease does cause damage to the optic nerves that deliver signals between the brain and the retina. As nerve damage becomes more extensive, vision loss will become more severe. Glaucoma has been linked to high blood pressure, which is another risk of smoking.
Preventing Vision Loss
The best way to prevent vision loss associated with retinal conditions linked to smoking is to quit this harmful habit. Our doctors understand that quitting is difficult, but the rewards are well worth it in the long run. Other steps our Kansas City patients can take to maintain healthy eyes and clear eyesight include:
- Eating nutrient-rich foods, especially those high in beta carotene, vitamin E, and vitamin C
- Keeping cholesterol and blood pressure within healthy ranges
- Controlling blood sugar levels (if diabetic)
- Leading an active lifestyle
- Scheduling comprehensive eye exams once a year
At Retina Associates, P.A., our experienced eye doctors offer a comprehensive range of eye care services, including treatment for the most common retinal conditions. To learn how these services can help you maintain healthy eyes and clear vision, contact us at your earliest convenience or call (913) 831-7400 to schedule an appointment.