What effect does smoking have on contact lenses?

Smoking with Contact Lenses: risks and effects

Most people who smoke do so with an understanding of the adverse effects it will have on their health. However, many people don't know how much damage smoking can cause to their eyesight. Dr. John Lahr, the Medical Director for EyeMed Vision Care, says smoking with contact lenses can cause damage and can lead to corneal ulceration and infection, and may even lead to blindness.

How smoking damage your eyes and your contacts

What happens if smoke gets in your eye? “Smoking is unhealthy on many levels," Lahr said. “However, people do not understand how detrimental it can be to your eyes. Smoke-damaged eyes increase the risk of early cataract development, Age-related Macular Degeneration and at the very least, causes dry, irritated eyes."

Cataracts, the clouding of the eye's natural lens, is the leading cause of blindness. According to The Journal of the American Medical Association, more than 50 percent of Americans will have or get treatment for a cataract by the time they are 80 years old. A person who smokes doubles their chance of developing a cataract compared to nonsmokers.

In addition, age-related macular degeneration, the breaking down of the retina center, is the leading cause of vision loss among Americans 65 and older. Smoking can accelerate this. Studies, including one published by JAMA Ophthalmology, have shown that smokers increase their risk three-fold in their chance to suffer from age-related Macular Degeneration. The retina, in particular the fovea, is responsible for your sharp, central vision, which is critical for seeing during everyday tasks like driving and reading.

You already know that smoking harms your eyes, but can you smoke with your contacts in? There are increased risks when you wear contact lenses and smoke. For one, natural tears can no longer keep up with the smoke and contacts covering the eye. The eyes will quickly turn red, dry, and scratchy.

Does smoking make your contacts dry?

Smoking with contacts makes you twice as likely to suffer from dry eyes that can lead to corneal ulceration and infection. It may even lead to blindness. Furthermore, the residues on your fingertips may contaminate your contact lenses. What starts as a stinging sensation might swiftly turn into a corneal ulcer. In the most severe situations, corneal transplantation is the sole option. You can prevent this by avoiding smoking with contacts on and using wetting drops for dry eyes from contacts.

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