How smoking causes glaucoma, other eye diseases

Glaucoma is a condition that causes damage to eye’s optic nerve and gets worse over time. 

By Zee Media Bureau | Updated: Mar 20, 2017, 09:13 AM IST
How smoking causes glaucoma, other eye diseases

New Delhi: Smoking has long been known to cause many health problems, including heart disease and lung cancer. However many people don't realise that smoking can lead to vision loss.

Opthalmologists blame smoking as one of the major reasons behind big spurt in glaucoma cases in India.

Glaucoma is a condition that causes damage to eye’s optic nerve and gets worse over time. It is often linked to a buildup of pressure inside the eye. Glaucoma tends to be inherited and may not show up until later in life.

 

Doctors said besides glaucoma, several other eye diseases, such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), can also be caused or aggravated due to smoking, but only 10-20 per cent people are aware of these facts.

Stating that lifestyle matters a lot for eye-related diseases, the doctors said research papers have proved that smoking increases the risk of AMD and glaucoma.

"Smoking is very much connected to age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataract, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and dry eye syndrome," Kamal B. Kapur, from Sharp Sight Group of Eye Hospitals, told IANS.

Kapur said that people who do not smoke, but become passive smokers, also are prone to develop AMD.

While glaucoma is a disease that damages eye's optic nerve, AMD causes loss in the centre of the field of vision. In dry macular degeneration, the centre of the retina deteriorates. With wet macular degeneration, leaky blood vessels grow under the retina.

AMD begins as a loss of central vision which makes it difficult to read and see fine details. Over time, vision loss increases significantly.

Mahipal Sachdev, Chairperson and Managing Director of city-based Centre for Sight, said: "Vision loss due to smoking does not have any symptoms like many other eye diseases, but a dilated examination can detect eye diseases in their early stages before vision loss occurs."

Some other types of eye-related problems caused by excessive smoking include cataract.

"People, who smoke in excess like 10 cigarettes a day, have up to three times the risk of cataract as non-smokers. Similarly, there is a strong nexus between glaucoma and smoking," said Sachdev.

The doctors said that there is a special need for awareness among people about the strong link between smoking and vision loss.

"In the first place, smoking has to be brought down, which actually leads to the damage of not just lungs and throat but gradually, the eye nerves also get damaged," said Samir Sud, a city-based ophthalmologist.

As per the estimates of Glaucoma Society of India, more than 10 million are suffering from glaucoma and over one million new cases are reported every year.

Diet may play a vital role in preventing age-related vision problems such as macular degeneration and cataract. Therefore adding nutrients such as Omega-3 fatty acids, zinc and vitamins A, C and E in your diet might help ward off eye problems.

(With IANS inputs)