Study: Smoking May Cause Blindness

Smoking man portrait

Smoking causes cancer and so many negative impacts on the human body but according to experts, it may even cause Blindness.

Smoking cigarettes harm the retina which is the light-sensing tissue in the back of our eyes this tissue is responsible for transmitting images to the brain.

Raja Narayanan the Head of L.V. Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI), Hyderabad told IANS(Indo-Asian News Service) that human retina is ” like a film of a camera which converts light rays into impulses which help us(humans) see”.

In his statement, Narayanan also added that “Smoking tobacco products increases the chemical compounds in the bloodstream thereby reducing blood and oxygen flow to the retina. So by this logic smokers are two times more susceptible to Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD)”.

This theory is not just limited to the view of Narayana, in fact in a recent study which was published in the journal Psychiatry Research, indicated significant changes in the smokers red-green and blue-yellow colour vision. This was an indication that consuming substances with neurotoxic chemicals, such as those in cigarettes(tobacco) can cause overall colour vision loss.

Every year millions try to quit smoking and still, millions of new smokers are falling to this addiction. This results in making Smoking one of the largest preventable causes of various diseases and premature deaths worldwide.

Every nation has its share of smokers and according to a Global Burden of Disease study published in The Lancet in 2017 shows that India was among the top 10 countries together and they account for almost two-thirds of the world’s smokers (63.6 percent) in 2015.

Smoking can cause vision loss and it can further affect a bunch of eye diseases like cataract, glaucoma, etc. While diseases related to the front of the eye are easily recognised but retinal diseases which may be caused by Smoking like AMD and Diabetic Macular Edema (DME) might develop silently and lead to progressive vision loss.

The scariest thing is some eye diseases can be cured with medicines but “The vision loss caused by retinal diseases cannot be reversed. There is still hope for the patients if the condition is diagnosed on time the disease can be managed effectively to prevent further loss of vision.

In a short interview with Ajay Dudani, Ophthalmologist/Eye and Vitreoretinal Surgeon, Mumbai Retina Centre he told IANS that Recognition of symptom is a key aspect for timely diagnosis”. Dudani added that “The symptoms of these retinal diseases are often confused with those of old age and due to this confusion these type of eye disorders generally leads to delayed diagnosis”.

Diabetic patients need to be extra cautious of any vision changes and need to follow a healthy lifestyle due to their compromised immune system they are more susceptible to diabetic retinopathy.

Dudani explains the current situation in India by saying that “Today, there are treatment options available that can slow or halt disease progression but full recovery, in this case, is nearly impossible. There are several treatment options available in India including laser photocoagulation, anti-VEGF (Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor) injections and combination therapy which includes laser and anti-VEGF treatment”.

According to experts, an unhealthy lifestyle, bad dietary habits and constant stress and exposure to digital screens may expose humans for retinal diseases. These retinal and other eye disorders are rising amongst the working population.

Also, a cessation programme can help an individual or a group to quit smoking.

Narayan explains that “It can be advised to consult an expert and take up a cessation programme to quit smoking. A change in lifestyle is highly recommended, a healthy lifestyle which includes eating of brightly coloured fruits and vegetables, that have antioxidants can help maintain retinal health”.

Narayan recommended a healthy diet which includes “Dark, leafy greens such as kale, spinach, lettuce, etc. All of these have lutein and zeaxanthin both of these vegetables are important nutrients for eye health. Certain vitamins like vitamin C(by drinking Orange Juice)and vitamin A(By eating Carrots)also help in overall eye health and help prevent the progression of AMD and DME”.