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Quit smoking and alcohol to prevent vision loss, say doctors

IANS Mar 21, 2024

If you are a chain smoker and love to binge on alcohol, you may be at significant risk of vision loss, said doctors on 20 March.

Smoking and binge drinking are already known to be detrimental to overall health, particularly for the heart, liver, and lungs. But its damage to the eyes is underestimated.

Smoking and binge drinking can give rise to dry eyes, cataracts, and macular degeneration -- all that can lead to vision loss, said health experts.

Dr Dheeraj Gupta, Senior Consultant - Ophthalmology, Marengo Asia Hospital, Gurugram explained that smoking causes “narrowing of blood vessels throughout the body, including those in the eyes”.

“This constriction can increase the risk of developing conditions such as macular degeneration and cataracts. Moreover, smoking can cause artery blockages in the eye, which may result in severe vision impairment or even blindness,” he said.

“Smoking raises the risk of diabetic retinopathy, cataracts, and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Additionally, it reduces blood flow to the eyes, which may cause issues with eyesight,” said Dr. Mahipal Singh Sachdev, Chairman and Managing Director, of Center for Sight, New Delhi.

On the other hand, alcohol consumption can harm the optic nerve, which is crucial for transmitting visual information from the eye to the brain, the experts noted.

“Continuous alcohol consumption can lead to the degeneration of the optic nerve, resulting in permanent partial or complete blindness. This damage to the optic nerve can manifest as conditions like alcoholic optic neuropathy, which can cause symptoms such as blurred vision, blind spots, and even loss of colour vision,” Dr. Dheeraj said.

“Drinking alcohol regularly can aggravate AMD and cataract development. Additionally, it can make dry eye syndrome worse and raise the chance of glaucoma,” Dr. Mahipal said.

Overall, maintaining excellent eye health requires cutting down on both smoking and alcohol consumption, said the experts, also stressing the need for routine eye exams to help in early detection and better treatment of any underlying eye problem.

“Minimising or abstaining from smoking and alcohol consumption is essential for maintaining good eye health,” Dr Dheeraj said.

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