What effect does smoking have on contact lenses?
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What effect does smoking have on contact lenses?

November 3, 2016 by Rachel K.

What effect does smoking have on contact lenses?

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 eye sight. Dr. John Lahr, the Medical Director for EyeMed Vision Care, says smoking can cause damage to a person's eye in different ways.

How smoke affects your eyes

“Smoking is unhealthy on many levels," Lahr said. “However, people do not understand how detrimental it can be to your eyes. Smoking increases the risk of early cataracts 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 a cataract or will have treated a cataract by the time they are 80 years old. A person who smokes doubles their chance of developing a cataract compared with nonsmokers.

Smoking and vision loss

Age-related macular degeneration, the breaking down of the center of the retina, is the leading cause of vision loss among Americans 65 and older. Many 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 center of the retina is responsible for a person's sharp, central vision which is critical for seeing during everyday tasks like driving and reading.

Smoking and your contact lenses

Although smoking is harmful to anybody's eyes, certain risks are increased if you wear contact lenses and smoke. When a person smokes, natural tears can no longer keep up with the smoke and contacts covering the eye. The eyes will quickly turn red, dry and scratchy. Smokers are twice as likely to suffer from dry eyes and dry eyes can lead to corneal ulcerations, which eventually lead to blindness.