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Smoking: How It Puts Your Vision At Risk

Is quitting smoking on your list of New Year's resolutions for 2017?

It's one of the most common resolutions made, and for good reason. The health benefits of smoking include decreased risk for cancer, heart disease, and other smoking related diseases as well as more superficial benefits (like reducing tooth discoloration). One overlooked fact (pun intended) is that smoking can have a detrimental effect on your eye health as well.

Smoking can put your vision at risk by contributing to the following:

Thyroid eye disease: Those who smoke are at higher risk of developing hyperthyroidism, more simply known as an overactive thyroid. It can lead to swelling and inflammation around the eyes, causing them to exhibit a "bulging" effect.

Macular degeneration: Smokers have three to four times the risk of developing macular degeneration.

Cataracts: Smoking robs your body of antioxidants, which are substances that help protect our cells from damage. Loss of antioxidants can lead to increasing the likelihood of cataract formation.

Vascular disease: Smoking contributes to the hardening of the arteries, otherwise known as atheroslerosis. This doesn't just put your heart at risk; it can also lead to neurological damage to the optic nerve, which in extreme cases can lead to permanent blindness.

If you're one of the nearly 7 in 10 U.S. smokers who want to quit, the benefits are clear. Smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States, and quitting now can cut your risk and leave you feeling stronger, healthier, and with better vision.