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Smoking can harm your eyes
MUMBAI, May 31 (Agencies):
Published on 31 May. 2011 10:22 PM IST
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Smoking not only affects your lungs and throat, it also harms your eyes. On the occasion of World No Tobacco Day on Tuesday, doctors raised the connection between smoking and eye disorders such as age-related macular degeneration and cataract. Mumbai-based eye surgeon S Natarajan said, “Smoking could lead to permanent loss of your 20:20 vision.” The cataract-smoking connection is based on bio-chemistry: smoking simply affects the absorption of useful antioxidants and hastens the degeneration of the smoker’s eyes.
“Lutein, an antioxidant, plays a major role in protecting the retina from ultraviolet rays. Tobacco hampers the absorption of lutein,” said Dr Natarajan, who is the founder of Aditya Jyot Eye Hospital in Wadala, Mumbai. Smoking accelerates the development of cataracts. “The presence of the free radicals in the body that build up over time from cigarette smoking may lead to formation of cataracts,” he added.
Smoking also affects the macula, which is the centre of the eye’s most important part called the retina. It’s the retina that acts as a screen and converts light, or an image, that falls on it into electrical impulses. These impulses are sent to the brain. When the macula degenerates, sharp vision is lost.
The risk of macular degeneration is two to three times higher in smokers than in people who have never smoked.
While both cataracts and macula degeneration are treatable, the operations are expensive and there is no promise of restoration of 20:20 vision. “Avoiding smoking is the best medicine.”

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