Not The Smokey Eyes You’re Looking For

Working in the contact lens industry I’ve read a lot of horror stories about people who don’t follow proper contact lens care directions and end up with gruesome results. Your eyes are the only organs that get their oxygen from their surroundings rather than from your body. When you smoke you pollute your environment and cause your eyes problems from the lack of oxygen. Every smoker has felt the sting of smoke in their eyes. When you wear contacts it compounds the inflammation, soreness, dry eyes and irritability. Plus when you smoke it not only leaves tar and nicotine on your fingers, but also on your contact lenses themselves causing a litany of issues which I will lay out below.

The CDC estimates the United States alone has roughly 480,000 deaths a year attributed to smoking. That’s half a million people that die each year from a preventable habit! The health risks associated with smoking are well known and numerous: Lung cancer, emphysema, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, a reduction in my overall life expectancy are just several of the dozens of concerns detrimental to my long term liveliness. This number does not take into account those people who are still alive and suffering from the adverse effects of smoking. More than 16 million Americans are living with a disease caused by smoking. For every person who dies because of smoking another 30 live with a serious smoking related illness.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) starts as a loss of central vision and makes it harder to read or see fine details in things. Smoking increases the severity and triples the risk of this disease, which is the leading cause of blindness in people over the age of 65. There are two types of AMD, �dry� and �wet�, with dry being the most common. Dry AMD causes fatty deposits to form in the back of the eye behind your retina, with vision getting worse slowly over time. Wet AMD causes tiny blood vessels to leak or break open, which in turn causes scar tissue to develop. Wet AMD is less common, but more quickly to produce harmful vision results.

Glaucoma is the gradual breakdown of the optic nerve cells that sends visual information to your brain. As the cells die, your vision slowly begins to deteriorate, usually starting with your peripheral vision. This is often not noticeable until a significant amount of nerve damage has occurred. Due to this, almost half the people who have glaucoma may not be aware they have it. There are two types of Glaucoma: Primary open-angle Glaucoma and acute angle closure Glaucoma. The former is the most common type, which by the time you are aware of it, can have already caused significant vision loss. The latter form of Glaucoma is less common, but can come on more rapidly due to increased pressure on the inside of the eye. Symptoms can include: eye pain, nausea, red eye, seeing colored rings around lights and blurry vision. Smoking can significantly increase the risk of developing open-angle Glaucoma, which can lead to blindness. Unfortunately, presently there is no cure for this horrible disease.