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Smoking and Eye Health… Not A Good MIx

Most people are aware that smoking poses a variety of health risks, ranging from cancer to heart disease, diabetes to lung diseases and more. However, many folks are unaware of the danger smoking causes to eye health.

Smoking harms nearly every organ in your body — including your eyes. Studies show smoking increases the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and dry eye syndrome.

One of the most vulnerable parts of the eye to cigarette smoke is the choroid, which is a dense network of blood vessels at the back of the eye. It’s responsible for supplying the retina with oxygen and nutrition and maintains the temperature and volume of the eye.

Studies have shown that smokers and people exposed to smoke have a thinner choroid. Choroidal thinning is linked to the development of vision-threatening AMD, among other conditions.

Eye diseases caused by smoking include:

Cataracts cloud your eye’s natural lens. The only way it can be corrected is through surgery to replace the lens with an artificial intraocular lens.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the deterioration of the macula, the essential part of the retina that provides sharp vision. Living with AMD can make it difficult or impossible to read, recognize faces and colors.

For those with diabetes, smoking increases the risk of diabetic retinopathy —irreversible vision damage done to the retina.

To decrease the risk of developing serious health problems, the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that smokers quit smoking and everyone should avoid smoking to preserve your long-term eye health.

If you continue to smoke, schedule comprehensive eye exams regularly with your ophthalmologist.

Dr. Stephen H. Uretsky is a board-certified ophthalmologist with 35 years of practice experience who specializes in comprehensive eye care. Dr. Michael G. Miller is a dedicated optometrist with a passion for helping correct vision loss in patients. Coastal Jersey Eye Center features an optical center, Classic Eyewear, which provides eyeglass frames and lenses to suit every style and budget.

For more information on eye exams or to schedule an appointment, call the Linwood office at 609-927-3373 or the Cape May Court House office at 609-465-7926. Visit us online at