If you smoke, or know someone who does, the Houston eye doctors and specialists at the Berkeley Eye Center want to make sure you circle November 21 on your calendar.
That’s the date of the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout, an event on the third Thursday in November each year designed to help smokers kick their habit by raising awareness of the health dangers associated with smoking and providing resources to help smokers quit.
While everyone knows that smoking is bad for their health, people continue to die from cigarette related diseases. In the United States, more than 480,000 people die from illnesses related to tobacco use each year. That’s more than the deaths from alcohol, car accidents, HIV, guns, and illegal drugs combined.
Cigarette Smoking Can Damage Your Vision
In addition to heart disease and lung cancer, cigarette smoking can lead to eye disease, vision loss and blindness as well. Studies have shown that cigarette smoking increases the risks of:
- Age related macular degeneration (AMD) — AMD occurs when a part of the retina, called the macula, is damaged. Smokers are three to four times more likely to develop AMD than nonsmokers. What’s worse is that nonsmokers who live with smokers almost double their risk of developing the condition.
- Cataracts — Cataracts are a clouding of the eye’s lens. Heavy smokers – those who smoke 15 cigarettes or more a day — have up to three times the risk of cataracts as nonsmokers.
- Glaucoma — Glaucoma occurs when the optic nerve connecting the eye to the brain becomes damaged. There is a strong link between smoking and high blood pressure, cataracts and diabetes — all risk factors for glaucoma.
- Diabetic Retinopathy — Smoking increases your chances of getting diabetes; its complications are made worse by smoking, including diabetic retinopathy, which causes damage to the blood vessels in the eye.
- Dry Eye Syndrome — Smokers are more than twice as likely of developing Dry Eye Syndrome as non-smokers.
Preserve Your Vision with a Vision Healthy Lifestyle
Maintaining a vision healthy lifestyle is the best way to preserve your eyesight. The Berkeley Eye Center recommends that you:
- STOP SMOKING!
- Eat healthy foods, especially those rich in vitamins C, E, and beta carotene.
- Monitor your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
- Watch your weight.
- Stay active and exercise.
- Get a comprehensive vision exam on a regular basis.
Kicking the Habit is Hard — But Remember You Have Help
Tobacco is highly addictive substance. Quitting is harder than most smokers think. But you aren’t alone. Reach out to friends, family and healthcare providers for support. The American Cancer Society and other organizations provide extensive online resources to help you quit. Events like the Great American Smokeout provides a great incentive to give up the habit.
Congratulations for deciding to stop smoking! The Houston eye specialists at the Berkeley Eye Center are here to help you embark on a vision healthy lifestyle that starts with a comprehensive eye exam. Early detection and treatment are the most effective ways to prevent smoking related vision loss.
If you’re a recent ex-smoker and it’s been a while since you’ve had your eyes looked at, contact Berkeley Eye Center to schedule a comprehensive eye exam with one of our trusted Houston eye doctors. We have clinics all Houston and surrounding communities, so there’s a Berkeley Eye Center location convenient for you.