Understanding How Smoking Affects The Eyes

If you are a smoker, then your optometrist or eye doctor may have informed you that it is best to quit smoking as soon as possible. Smoking does affect the eyes significantly and there are a few different ways that this happens. Keep reading to learn how the eyes are affected by cigarette smoke so you know why it is best to quit smoking.

It Reduces Blood Flow

You may know that smoking can cause atherosclerosis. This disease occurs when deposits build on the insides of the blood vessels and stop blood from reaching tissues. This keeps organs from getting the oxygen they need to survive. Also, the increased buildup increases the blood pressure. Both of these issues can affect your overall circulation, including your heart.

When it comes to the heart, occluded blood vessels mean that the optic nerve does not receive the blood it needs and this can cause damage to the area. The result is vision loss and in severe causes blindness. 

High blood pressure can also cause damage to the small vessels of the eyes. Specifically, the pressure can "blow out" the smallest capillaries and the eye tissues will not receive the nutrients they need. This can lead to macular degenerations issues and overall vision acuity problems.

It Constricts The Blood Vessels

Not only does smoking cause the blood pressure to rise, but it also causes the smallest blood vessels in your eyes to constrict or squeeze. This squeezing leads to the breakage of the blood vessels in some cases and you may notice that your eyes are bloodshot or red looking. This red or pink coloring may also be evident when the actual smoke gets in your eye. This sort of issue can contribute to dry eye issues as well.

You may also notice that your eyes hurt or throb throughout the day and this is also due to the nicotine in the cigarettes and the way it constricts the vessels. Headaches may be common at the same time that your eyes throb. 

Oftentimes, the constricting can cause eye fatigue and you may notice this if you use your computer a lot or if you read throughout the day. This may require you to take frequent breaks which can interfere with your job or with school. 

If you want to know more about eye health and how a habit like smoking can cause eye diseases and damage, then speak with an eye care professional, such as at Battery Park Vision Associates.