Do you smoke more than 20 cigarettes in a day? It may damage your vision

  1. Smoking more than 20
    cigarettes a day may damage your vision by affecting blood vessels and neurons in the retina, a study warns.
    The study, published in the journal Psychiatry Research, included 71 healthy people who smoked fewer than 15 cigarettes in their lives and 63 who smoked more than 20 cigarettes a day, were diagnosed with tobacco addiction and reported no attempts to stop.
    The participants were between the ages of 25 and 45 and had normal or corrected-to-normal vision as measured by standard visual acuity charts, said researchers from the Rutgers University in the US.

They looked at how participants discriminated contrast levels (subtle differences in shading) and colours while seated 59 inches from a 19-inch cathode-ray tube monitor that displayed stimuli while researchers monitored both eyes simultaneously.

The findings indicated significant changes in the smokers’ red-green and blue-yellow colour vision, which suggests that consuming substances with neurotoxic chemicals, such as those in cigarettes, may cause overall colour vision loss.
They also found that the heavy smokers had a reduced ability to discriminate contrasts and colours when compared to the non-smokers.
“Cigarette smoke consists of numerous compounds that are harmful to health,” said Steven Silverstein, director of research at Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care.
“it has been linked to a reduction in the thickness of layers in the brain, and to brain lesions, involving areas such as the frontal lobe, which plays a role in voluntary movement and control of thinking, and a decrease in activity in the area of the brain that processes vision,” said Silverstein.
Previous studies have pointed that long-term smoking doubles the risk for age-related macular degeneration and causes lens yellowing and inflammation.
“Our results indicate that excessive use of cigarettes, or chronic exposure to their compounds, affects visual discrimination, supporting the existence of overall deficits in visual processing with tobacco addiction,” Silverstein said.
Although the research did not give a physiological explanation for the results, Silverstein said that since nicotine and smoking harm the vascular system, the study suggests they also damage blood vessels and neurons in the retina.
He said the findings also suggest that research into visual processing impairments in other groups of people, such as those with schizophrenia who often smoke heavily, should take into account their smoking rate or independently examine smokers versus non-smokers.

Ocular complications of Diabetes

Overview
Diabetic retinopathy (die-uh-BET-ik ret-ih-NOP-uh-thee) is a diabetes complication that affects eyes. It’s caused by damage to the blood vessels of the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye (retina).
At first, diabetic retinopathy may cause no symptoms or only mild vision problems. Eventually, it can cause blindness.
The condition can develop in anyone who has type 1 or type 2 diabetes. The longer you have diabetes and the less controlled your blood sugar is, the more likely you are to develop this eye complication.
Symptoms
You might not have symptoms in the early stages of diabetic retinopathy. As the condition progresses, diabetic retinopathy symptoms may include:
Spots or dark strings floating in your vision (floaters)
Blurred vision
Fluctuating vision
Impaired color vision
Dark or empty areas in your vision
Vision loss
Diabetic retinopathy usually affects both eyes.
When to see a doctor
Careful management of your diabetes is the best way to prevent vision loss. If you have diabetes, see your eye doctor for a yearly eye exam with dilation — even if your vision seems fine. Pregnancy may worsen diabetic retinopathy, so if you’re pregnant, your eye doctor may recommend additional eye exams throughout your pregnancy.
Contact your eye doctor right away if your vision changes suddenly or becomes blurry, spotty or hazy.
Causes
Over time, too much sugar in your blood can lead to the blockage of the tiny blood vessels that nourish the retina, cutting off its blood supply. As a result, the eye attempts to grow new blood vessels. But these new blood vessels don’t develop properly and can leak easily.
There are two types of diabetic retinopathy:
Early diabetic retinopathy. In this more common form — called nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy (NPDR) — new blood vessels aren’t growing (proliferating).
When you have NPDR, the walls of the blood vessels in your retina weaken. Tiny bulges (microaneurysms) protrude from the vessel walls of the smaller vessels, sometimes leaking fluid and blood into the retina. Larger retinal vessels can begin to dilate and become irregular in diameter, as well. NPDR can progress from mild to severe, as more blood vessels become blocked.
Nerve fibers in the retina may begin to swell. Sometimes the central part of the retina (macula) begins to swell (macular edema), a condition that requires treatment.
Advanced diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy can progress to this more severe type, known as proliferative diabetic retinopathy. In this type, damaged blood vessels close off, causing the growth of new, abnormal blood vessels in the retina, and can leak into the clear, jelly-like substance that fills the center of your eye (vitreous).
Eventually, scar tissue stimulated by the growth of new blood vessels may cause the retina to detach from the back of your eye. If the new blood vessels interfere with the normal flow of fluid out of the eye, pressure may build up in the eyeball. This can damage the nerve that carries images from your eye to your brain (optic nerve), resulting in glaucoma.
Risk factors
Anyone who has diabetes can develop diabetic retinopathy. Risk of developing the eye condition can increase as a result of:
Duration of diabetes — the longer you have diabetes, the greater your risk of developing diabetic retinopathy
Poor control of your blood sugar level
High blood pressure
High cholesterol
Pregnancy
Tobacco use
Being African-American, Hispanic or Native American
Complications
Diabetic retinopathy involves the abnormal growth of blood vessels in the retina. Complications can lead to serious vision problems:
Vitreous hemorrhage. The new blood vessels may bleed into the clear, jelly-like substance that fills the center of your eye. If the amount of bleeding is small, you might see only a few dark spots (floaters). In more-severe cases, blood can fill the vitreous cavity and completely block your vision.
Vitreous hemorrhage by itself usually doesn’t cause permanent vision loss. The blood often clears from the eye within a few weeks or months. Unless your retina is damaged, your vision may return to its previous clarity.
Retinal detachment. The abnormal blood vessels associated with diabetic retinopathy stimulate the growth of scar tissue, which can pull the retina away from the back of the eye. This may cause spots floating in your vision, flashes of light or severe vision loss.
Glaucoma. New blood vessels may grow in the front part of your eye and interfere with the normal flow of fluid out of the eye, causing pressure in the eye to build up (glaucoma). This pressure can damage the nerve that carries images from your eye to your brain (optic nerve).
Blindness. Eventually, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma or both can lead to complete vision loss.
Prevention
You can’t always prevent diabetic retinopathy. However, regular eye exams, good control of your blood sugar and blood pressure, and early intervention for vision problems can help prevent severe vision loss.
If you have diabetes, reduce your risk of getting diabetic retinopathy by doing the following:
Manage your diabetes. Make healthy eating and physical activity part of your daily routine. Try to get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, such as walking, each week. Take oral diabetes medications or insulin as directed.
Monitor your blood sugar level. You may need to check and record your blood sugar level several times a day — more-frequent measurements may be required if you’re ill or under stress. Ask your doctor how often you need to test your blood sugar.
Ask your doctor about a glycosylated hemoglobin test. The glycosylated hemoglobin test, or hemoglobin A1C test, reflects your average blood sugar level for the two- to three-month period before the test. For most people, the A1C goal is to be under 7 percent.
Keep your blood pressure and cholesterol under control . Eating healthy foods, exercising regularly and losing excess weight can help. Sometimes medication is needed, too.
If you smoke or use other types of tobacco, ask your doctor to help you quit. Smoking increases your risk of various diabetes complications, including diabetic retinopathy.
Pay attention to vision changes. Contact your eye doctor right away if you experience sudden vision changes or your vision becomes blurry, spotty or hazy.
Remember, diabetes doesn’t necessarily lead to vision loss. Taking an active role in diabetes management can go a long way toward preventing complications.

When to see an eye doctor

As someone who is overly worried about my eyes, I feel like everything is a reason to go to the eye doctor. I’ll make an appointment at the drop of a hat, get dilated, let them poke around — the whole shebang. But for others, the very thought of anyone coming near their peepers is enough to make them faint.
For this reason, and many others, there are people who skip out on their regular exams. And, others still, who never go at all, even when they’re dealing with some chronic eye issues. According to WebMD, eye exams aren’t just for poor vision. They’re an important way of detecting eye problems before you have symptoms.
I know money is an issue, and time, and the whole squeamish factor, but if you can get your paws on an eye exam, stick with it. The doctor will check your vision to see whether or not you need glasses; the pressure of your eye, which looks for glaucoma; and give a full eye exam, which involves dilating the eye and peaking around inside the eyeball.
Everyone should get a comprehensive eye exam every two years, but if you haven’t gone in a hot minute, or you don’t think it’s necessary, then here are some signs a visit to the eye doctor is in order.

1. You Always Have A Headache
If your head is pounding all the time, then it might be time to head over to your trusty optometrist. According to YourSightMatters.com, “A routine eye exam can turn up a variety of issues that may be causing headaches. In some cases staring at the computer screen too long, or working on overly bright or dim light may be the culprit. Adjusting workplace lighting, or remembering to take a break every hour or so to give your eyes a rest can remedy those problems.” In other, more severe cases, your headaches may be caused by astigmatism, long-sightedness, or even glaucoma, so it’s important to get yourself checked out.

2. Your Eye Is Infected

Eye infections can get gross real quick, so if you have one brewing, be sure to get over to the eye doc ASAP. According to WebMD, symptoms of eye infection include feeling like something is in your eye, redness, pain, discharge from the eye, sensitivity to light, and blurred vision. You may need a course of antibiotics drops to clear things up.

3. There are Bright Flashes And Floaters Galore
Lots of people have floaters. You know, the little squiggly pieces of dust in your vision that are super noticeable on a white wall, or when you look up at the sky. (Sorry, now you probably can’t unsee them.) They’re usually nothing to worry about. But if you have a sudden increase in floaters, as well as flashing lights or a shadow in your peripheral vision, it could be a sign of a detached retina. According to Katherine Lee on EverydayHealth.com, this is an absolute eye emergency. And unless it’s treated quickly, a detached retina can lead to blindness.

4. That Eye Pain Is Becoming A Bit Much
If your eyes are bothering you, it’s really no surprise you should get an eye exam. And yet, so many people put up with painful eye symptoms, and never do anything about them. Don’t be like this — if your eyes are hurting, go see the doctor. Usually the culprit is simple dry eye, which can be solved with some drops. But sometimes eye pain can be a sign of an injury, or a condition like glaucoma, a scratched cornea, or even eye cancer, said Lee. So yea, don’t let it go on too long.

5. You’ve Been Squinting For Days
If you need to squint to see the computer, or to read road signs while driving, then it could be a sign you need glasses. Besides the obvious blurriness, we subconsciously squint in an effort to change the eye and make it easier to see. According to Scienceline.UCSB.edu, ” squinting allows us to see better in two ways: by changing the shape of our eye and letting in a limited amount of light that is more easily focused.” But don’t get any ideas — squinting forever is not an effective or sustainable way to deal with the issue. Go pick yourself out a nice, new pair of specs.

6. You Have Diabetes, Or It Runs In Your Family
If you have diabetes, then you probably already know how to properly look after your blood sugar. But monitoring your vision is another important aspect of dealing with the disease. As Ed Zimney, M.D., noted on EverydayHealth.com, “… diabetes is another systemic illness that can damage the retina and be seen on eye exam even before loss of vision occurs … it’s [also] possible for someone without any symptoms and perfect vision not to know they have diabetes and to have it recognized for the first time on examination of the eyes.” So best get yourself checked out.
Sitting around with dilated eyes may not be your ideal way to spend an afternoon, but getting a check-up every two years is imperative for good eye health.

How to protect your eyes from gadgets that emit blue light

How to Protect Your Eyes From Electronic Devices
Most people use electronic devices for a considerable number of hours during the day and in the evening. This technology is new to recent generations, and the long-term effects of eye exposure to electronic devices have yet to be determined.
What researchers do know is that the blue light emitted from screens can be detrimental to eye health on varying levels of severity. And, it doesn’t take a team of researchers to know that constant exposure to harsh light does cause eye strain.
Here are some convenient and simple ways to protect your eyes from electronic devices that are easy to implement.
1. HOLD YOUR DEVICE AT AN ANGLE
Blue light is emitted straight out from the device. If you hold your device at a 30-degree angle or more, you can measurably reduce the amount of blue light that enters your eyes. To determine the best angle, simply experiment. You’ll be able to physically feel when the strain on your eyes has been reduced sufficiently.
2. WEAR BLUE LIGHT BLOCKING GLASSES
Blue light blocking glasses are made with special spectrum control technology to absorb blue light. Wear these to reduce eye strain and protect your eyes from electronic devices. Look for ones that absorb up between 90 to 99 percent of blue light. These amber colored or orange-lensed glasses start at around N6500 , so there’s a pair for any budget. Regular use is claimed to reduce your risk of cataracts and other macular degeneration conditions.
3. USE A SCREEN FILTER
Screen filters are available to fit most models of laptops, tablets, and phones. These filters fit easily onto the device without harming the original manufacturer’s screen or interfering with touch sensitivity. These are especially helpful if your younger children use computers for games or schoolwork since kids are less likely to wear blue light blocking glasses without supervision.
4. INSTALL A BLUE LIGHT BLOCKING PLUGIN
There are a few software plugins that you can install for use with your browsers. These plugins start automatically when you use your browser, and alter the screen light to protect your eyes from harsh screen light. Most can be controlled so that you can adjust the level of protection to suit your individual preferences. There are several options on the market to try, either free or for a nominal charge.
5. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF “COMFORT VIEW” SETTINGS
Many newer devices offer a “comfort view” setting. This setting changes the sharp screen light to a warmer light with less contrast between the screen and the surrounding light. This setting can usually be found in the display settings, or in the pull-down menu on mobile phones and tablets, near the volume control. While this setting doesn’t necessarily protect your eyes from the blue light, it does cut down on eye strain considerably by lessening the contrast.
Of course, the easiest way to protect your eyes from electronic devices is to reduce use. When this isn’t possible, though, these suggestions will help ensure good eye health for years to come.
Contact your eye doctor to learn more.