Nicotine Replacement Therapy and Visual Health

Complications with smoking and your eyes are related to the myriad chemicals in cigarette smoke. But is nicotine one of those chemicals? And, if so, are you any safer using a nicotine replacement therapy to help kick the habit and reduce your risks for macular degeneration and cataracts?

There are over 4,000 known chemicals in cigarette smoke. These chemicals do various things to your eyes including increasing oxidative stress. Nicotine alone does not increase oxidative stress, but it does constrict blood vessels, reducing necessary blood flow to the eyes. In addition, nicotine can slow or completely stop the production of rhodospin, the chemical pigment responsible for proper night vision. This means when you quit smoking cigarettes with a nicotine replacement such as patches, gum, or an e-cigarette, you eliminate the damage being done by many of the chemicals, but not the damage being done by nicotine itself.

Quit Smoking

Here’s the good news: people who use nicotine replacement therapy to quit smoking have a higher rate of success than those who choose to quit cold turkey. Since 90 percent of nicotine is metabolized by your liver as soon as it hits your system, only 10 percent remains after you have stopped using a nicotine replacement therapy. This remaining 10 percent can stay for up to 30 days, but will eventually clear from your body. Once cleared, future damage from cigarette smoking and nicotine is eliminated.

While there is no way to undo the damage already done to your eyes by cigarettes, it is always best to quit smoking. Your eye doctor can discuss this with you in full detail during your regularly scheduled eye exams.

To learn more about protecting your vision, please visit to find an eye doctor in your area today.

Smoking and Your Eyes

While the health dangers associated with smoking cigarettes are well documented, they generally focus on lung cancer and respiratory issues such as asthma and emphysema. But did you know that smoking can also cause serious damage to your eyes?

There are approximately 4,000 chemicals introduced into your bloodstream when you smoke cigarettes. Many of these chemicals can result in severe damage to your vision. In fact, smoking can increase your risk of developing age-related eye conditions such as macular degeneration and cataracts.

Smoking is the leading preventable risk factor for macular degeneration, which is the most common cause of blindness among people over the age of 65. In fact, a 2006 study published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology found that smoking was a causal factor in approximately 25% of all age-related macular degeneration cases resulting in vision loss. Furthermore, living with someone who smokes will double your risk of developing the condition.

Studies have also found smoking to be a considerable risk factor in developing cataracts, a condition occurring when your eye’s natural lens becomes clouded. People who smoke 15 or more cigarettes a day are three times as likely to develop cataracts as nonsmokers. Researchers believe that cigarette smoke increases your risk of cataracts by boosting the oxidative stress on your eye’s lens.

If you didn’t already have enough reasons to quit smoking, add protecting your vision to the list. Years of smoking will take its toll on your body in many ways, and your vision is too important to place in jeopardy.

Please contact today to find an experienced ophthalmologist near you.