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World No Tobacco Day 2023: Smoking linked to early vision loss and eye diseases

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The day helps to bring focus and awareness to risk factors for early vision loss associated with smoking.

World no Tobacco Day with a picture of the Earth and a cigarette. (Image Credit: AdobeStock/kongvector)

(Image Credit: AdobeStock/kongvector)

The World Health Organization (WHO) and many other public health companies are celebrating World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) on Wednesday, May 31, 2023.

According to the CDC, more than 16 million Americans are living with a disease caused by smoking. For every person who dies because of smoking, at least 30 people live with a serious smoking-related illness.

World No Tobacco Day helps to bring focus onto risk factors for early vision loss associated with smoking.

According to WHO and FDA, smokers are prone to develop age-related macular degeneration (AMD) up to 5.5 years earlier and are 4 times more likely to develop the condition when compared to non-smokers, while non-smokers are twice as likely to develop AMD from second-hand smoke. Smokers are also 2 to 3 times more likely to develop cataracts than non-smokers.

“Smoking increases your risk of developing serious eye conditions and permanent sight loss. Quitting smoking and having regular eye tests can help improve eye health and prevent avoidable sight loss”, said Jude Stern, Head of Knowledge Management, from the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness in a release from WHO.

E-cigarettes are also harmful to the long-term health of the eyes as well. According to WHO, E-cigarette flavors may increase the production of free radicals, unstable atoms that can build up in cells and cause damage to other molecules, such as DNA, lipids, and proteins and may increase the risk of cancer and other diseases.

Continued use of e-cigarettes could lead to cataracts and may reduce blood flow to the eyes, alter retinal function and lead to an increased risk of developing eye cancer.

More research is needed to conclude if smoking causes Graves’ eye disease, also known as Thyroid Eye Disease (TED), or diabetic retinopathy. However, according to the FDA some evidence suggests that smoking cigarettes can put you at an increased risk for Graves’ eye disease if you have Graves’ disease.

According to the CDC, smokers with AMD should quit smoking to help slow the disease. Other forms of healthy habits include regular exercise, maintaining healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and wearing sunglasses to protect your eyes from sunlight.

According to the CDC, cigarette smoking causes more than 480,000 deaths annually in the US, with 41,000 of those being attributed to second-hand smoke. In the US, smokers die on average 10 years earlier than non-smokers. Globally smoking causes 7 million deaths per year.

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