Smoking is the leading preventable cause of death and disease in Canada. It is well known that smoking is harmful to your health. Smoking damages every organ in your body, including your eyes.
The risks to eye health related to smoking are often unknown to Quebecers, but they are very real.
Smokers' Eye Health Risks
Two to three times more likely to develop Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD). AMD is a disease causing vision loss and is the leading cause of blindness in North America in adults over the age of 55.
Twice the risk of having early cataracts and therefore increasingly blurred vision linked to the opacification of the lens.
Increased risk of diabetic retinopathy. A serious eye problem linked to diabetes, diabetic retinopathy acts on the blood vessels of the retina. It can lead to blindness.
Uveitis more common in smokers. This inflammation damages the structures of the eye and can lead to the formation of cataracts, glaucoma, retinal detachment, or even blindness.
Risk factor for complications and symptoms of thyroid ophthalmopathy: protruding eyes, double vision, optic nerve disease, inflammation, swelling of the eye and surrounding membranes.
Higher risk of Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA), which is the most common cause of temporary loss of vision. Also called "mini Cerebral Vascular Accident (CVA)", it can only last a few minutes but 15% of people who survive a TIA are more likely to contract another one in the following year.
Risks for those around them
Eye discomfort: tingling, burning sensation, redness, tearing.
Increased risk of allergic conjunctivitis in children.
Increased risk of corneal infection or inflammation in contact lens wearers. It is also more common to develop dry eye.
For pregnant women, there is a greater risk that the baby will be born with a strabismus and can also cause retinal or optic nerve problems.
19 chronic diseases that smokers are more likely to develop
We have already mentioned the increased risks related to vision, but there are also other chronic diseases that smokers are more likely to develop. Chronic diseases are not contagious but they significantly limit daily activities throughout life. These pathologies or conditions can lead to death and can be avoided or limited by eliminating tobacco from your life.
- Cerebral Vascular Accident (CVA): 2 to 4x more risk for smokers depending on the quantity of cigarettes consumed. The risk is also present for the entourage exposed to second-hand smoke.
- Periodontitis: smoking reduces blood circulation to the gums and changes the bacteria located in the mouth while weakening the immune system. This can lead to the development of periodontitis which is a gum disease.
- Asthma: smoking accelerates the deterioration of breathing and asthma symptoms are more frequent and stronger in smokers and those around them exposed to second-hand smoke.
- Pneumonia: increased risks for smokers and those around them because tobacco reduces the body's ability to fight infections.
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): includes emphysema (lung disorder) and chronic bronchitis and prevents people who suffer from it from breathing normally.
- Tuberculosis: caused by bacteria that lodge in the lungs. Smokers have an increased risk of contracting it and dying from it.
- Thoracic aortic aneurysm: an aneurysm is a localized dilation of the wall of an artery which then becomes more fragile and can rupture, causing internal bleeding.
- Coronary artery disease: 2 to 3x more risk of having heart disease for smokers. For people exposed to second-hand smoke, the risk increases by about 27%. People with heart disease worsen their condition if they smoke or are exposed to second-hand smoke.
- Peripheral arterial disease: characterized by the blockage of an artery. Smoking causes the disease to progress more quickly and increases the risk of developing it.
- Atherosclerosis: deterioration of the walls of arteries and veins. Tobacco use thickens the blood, accelerates heart rate and increases blood pressure, which causes premature wear of blood vessels.
- Diabetes: smokers are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes (the body produces insulin but cannot use it properly) and also have more complications as well as a reduced sensitivity of the body to insulin.
- Effects on the female reproductive system: decrease in the egg reserve, therefore decrease in the chances of pregnancy and acceleration of the menopause.
- Erectile dysfunction: 2x more risk of having erection problems because tobacco leads to thickening of blood vessels.
- Ectopic or ectopic pregnancy: the more a woman smokes, the greater the risk of ectopic pregnancy because smoking interferes with the transport of the embryo to the uterine cavity where it must develop. A consumption of more than 20 cigarettes per day multiplies by 4 this risk.
- Birth defects: Smoking or being exposed to second-hand smoke during pregnancy increases the risk of having a newborn with a heart defect, cleft palate or cleft lip (lip lip).
- Rheumatoid arthritis (RA): About 20% of RA cases are due to smoking. In people genetically predisposed to the disease the risk is even greater (just over 50% of cases).
- Femoral neck fracture: 1 in 8 fractures is related to smoking. The necessary blood supply to the bones is reduced, the production of bone cells is slowed and there is a decrease in the absorption of calcium.
- Immune deficiency: Smokers are more at risk of catching viruses or contracting diseases.