We already know that smoking is a significant risk factor for macular degeneration, but a new study shows that it also causes damage to the eye in the same way glaucoma does.
Researchers in Turkey evaluated the effect of smoking on the retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL) which collects visual impulses from photoreceptors (rods and cones) and ganglion cells in the retina and transmits these impulses to the optic nerve.
A total of 88 adults between the ages of 20 and 50 participated in the study: 44 had smoked at least one pack of cigarettes a day for more than 10 years, and 44 did not smoke. All were in good health and there were no significant differences in age, gender, refractive errors or eye pressure between the two groups.
Examinations of the subjects retinas revealed the mean thickness of the retinal nerve fiber layer of the smokers was significantly thinner than that of the non-smokers. Thinning of the RNFL is also associated with eye diseases such as glaucoma which cause loss of peripheral vision and even blindness.
To be clear, smoking doesn’t cause glaucoma, but it does appear to cause the same destruction of the eye which leads to loss of vision. If you don’t smoke now, don’t start and if you do smoke, think seriously about stopping. Make it a resolution that you keep in 2015.
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