Eye spy some cigarettes: How smoking can damage your eyes

Even e-cigarettes may be harmful to the eyes

LAST UPDATED: 29 May, 2016 @ 08:31

eyesRECENT reports indicate that e-cigarettes can also damage your eyes, so this month we wanted to explore this topic to help you make an informed decision, writes Amrik Sappal, Store Director at Specsavers Opticas Fuengirola.

Q. How can smoking affect my eyes?

A. When you inhale a cigarette, approximately 4,000 chemicals enter your bloodstream and travel throughout your body. Some of these substances cause blood vessels at the back of the eye to burst, damaging the macula and ultimately leading to loss of vision. This is known as Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of severe vision loss for people over the age of 55 in the Western world. Smokers more than double their risk of developing AMD, have a higher likelihood of developing cataracts and nicotine slowly poisons the optic nerve, causing impaired colour vision.

Q. What about e-cigarettes, are they a better option?

A. Although e-cigarette research is still in its early stages and the long-term effects are yet to be established, there are early indications that some types can cause irritation to the eyes in the form of dry eye. Keratoconjunctivitis sicca, also known as dry eye disease, is a condition that occurs when the eyes do not make enough tears, or when the tears evaporate too quickly. This leads to the eyes drying out and becoming red, swollen and irritated.

As a relatively new invention, the risks of e-cigarettes are still not fully understood. However, concerns are significant enough that the British Medical Association has called for stronger regulation of e-cigarettes and the findings about dry eye disease certainly support this.

If your eyes are sore, dry or red, or you are experiencing discomfort, go to your nearest Specsavers for an eye test. Specsavers Opticas in Fuengirola and Marbella are currently offering free eye tests.

To make an appointment or find your nearest store visit www.specsavers.es.

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