We all focus on the cancer causing elements of smoking, but the toxins in cigarettes effect your whole body with a wide variety of issues.
One of the diseases that is often forgotten about is eye disease, but smoking in-fact doubles your chance of losing some of your vision and there is even a chance for complete loss of sight.
Over the years the 4000+ toxins in cigarettes build up and start to effect smokers more and more. And the amount of cigarettes you smoke plays into this, as the toxins build up faster the more you smoke.
The two main ways that smoking damages your sight are with cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and sometimes both at the same time.
Smoking And Cataracts
Cataracts are when there is a clouding of the eye's natural lens and is currently the leading cause of blindness in the world. More than 50 percent of Americans will have a cataract or have had cataract surgery by age 80.
By smoking though you significantly increase their risk of developing a cataract compared with non-smokers. Studies show that people who smoke double their chance of forming cataracts, and the risk continues to increase the more you smoke.
At first cataracts don't seem too bad, they cause a little blurring but that's about that it.
Later on cataracts will start to make any bright light, as in the sun or a lamp seem too bright or glaring.
As the cataract grows your vision will deteriorate and leave your vision reduced.
They do this by covering the lens of the eye, which is the part of the eye that focuses the light coming into your eyes. The lens also normally adjusts the eye's focus, letting us see things clearly both up close and far away, which the cataract also disrupts.
As we age, some of the protein which makes up the lens can clump together and start to cloud a small area of the lens. This is a cataract, and over time, it may grow larger and cloud more of the lens, making it harder to see.
It is believed that smoking helps the creation of cataracts by changing the cells of the lens through oxidation. If that wasn't enough there is also evidence that smoking leads to the buildup of heavy metals like cadmium in the lens which furthers clouds the cataract.
The good news with cataracts is that with surgery they can be removed or at the very least reduced. However afterwards you will still need glasses and as the procedure involves removing the entire lens and replacing it you will need to look after the false lens afterwards.
Smoking and age-related macular degeneration (AMD)
Smoking doesn't just cause cataracts though, it also increases a person's risk of developing macular degeneration.
Macular degeneration involves the breakdown of the macula (as the name implies) which is the central part of the eye that allows us to see fine details. As the macula wears out, people experience blurriness, distortions, or blind spots in their central vision.
Scientists believe that smoking increases the risk of macular degeneration by interfering with blood flow to the eye and increases the risk of oxidation to the eye, which can speed up the process (which is also what happens with cataracts).
And it's not even a small increase in risk, smokers are actually two to four times more likely to get AMD than non-smokers.
As with cataracts, studies have found that the likelihood of AMD increases the more a person has smoked. It is also much more likely for a smoker to get AMD earlier than normal, contracting the disease in middle age rathar than later in life like normal.
Even worse studies have also found that 2nd hand smoke can cause the same effect, so you don't even need to be a smoker to increase your risk.
E-cigarettes and eyesight
The best thing to do for you eyes and to avoid both cataracts and AMD is to stop smoking.
However if you can't quit smoking for good then maybe e-cigarettes can help.
Though there hasn't been much research on this topic yet, one of the biggest causes of blindness from smoking are the 4000+ toxins and chemicals in each cigarette, and these toxins are not in e-cigarettes.
E-cigarettes only have 4 ingredients: Nicotine, Propylene Glycol, Vegetable Glycerine and Flavouring. Each of these ingredients have been around for years with health bodies such as Public Health England and the CDC in the USA having approved these ingredients as safe for human consumption. That is why they can be found in all manner of foods like ice cream, chewing gum and more.
The only ingredient that hasn't been rated as completely safe is nicotine, and that has been added as it's the key reason that smokers use cigarettes! And even nicotine on it's own, without the 4000+ chemicals and 50+ carcinogens in cigarettes, isn't dangerous. In fact according to some scientists it can be equated to caffeine, though much more addictive.
E-cigarettes also do not effect the people around us like cigarettes do, with the NHS saying that there is no danger from vapour.
As we said before, there isn't much research yet on how e-cigarettes effect the eyes, but Public Health England does state that e-cigarettes are 95% less harmful than cigarettes. By making the switch you can at the very least eliminate all the carcinogens and toxins which come from cigarettes.
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