Kick Smoking and Eye Disease to the Curb on the Great American Smokeout

Even though restaurants and public places are now nonsmoking areas, smoking continues to be a problem in our country. According to the American Cancer Society, 42 million Americans smoke cigarettes. As of 2013, there are still 12.4 million cigar smokers and 2.3 million pipe smokers who light up regularly. Smoking is the leading preventable cause of disease and premature death in the United States, but this addictive habit is hard to break (Source: American Cancer Society).

Coincidentally, 75 to 80 percent of smokers want to quit, but it takes 5 to 10 attempts, on average, for a smoker to quit smoking for good. It’s easy to list the unpleasant side effects of smoking: the smell of smoke, stained teeth, premature aging, wrinkles and dulled sense of smell and taste. However, these side effects pale in comparison to the damage that smoking does to your organs, especially your eyes.

Smoking increases your risk for several eye diseases and eye conditions, such as cataracts, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and dry eye. Uveitis, or inflammation of the inside of the eye, can damage the retina and iris of the eye and can lead to retinal detachment or glaucoma, both of which cause permanent vision damage. Most smokers are completely unaware that this habit can be so detrimental to their eyes, but the encouraging news is that the body immediately benefits from cessation of smoking (Source: All About Vision).

To quit smoking, you need motivation and a calendar. Your motivation is easy: better health and clear vision. The calendar provides a set date to stop smoking, so take a red Sharpie and circle Thursday, November 19. The third Thursday in November is designated the Great American Smokeout, a day that the American Cancer Society has set aside to help smokers quit and begin a new chapter of good health. The year’s theme is “Quit Like a Champion,” reminding you that victory is possible with a strong support system.

Visit the Great American Smokeout’s website to download customizable flyers, posters, table tents and social media graphics. Make a change this year, or help be an instrument of change for someone you love. We can end tobacco addiction and commit to healthy vision if we all work together!