LASIK and Cigarette Smoke: A Terrible Match

By Gordon Wong, OD on September 14, 2016

A lit cigarette with smoke billowing from its endIt is no secret by now that smoking is bad not only for your heart, lungs, and mouth, but also for virtually every other part of your body, including your eyes. In fact, studies have definitively proven smoking to be a risk factor for such eye conditions as cataracts, age-related macular degeneration (AMD), diabetic retinopathy, and retinal vascular occlusions. Not surprisingly, smoking can also interfere with a person’s LASIK results, particularly during the all-important recovery phase.

In discussing the adverse relationship between LASIK and cigarette smoke, San Diego, CA LASIK surgeon Gordon Wong is careful to emphasize that smokers who are unwilling to give up the habit, at least in the weeks leading up to the procedure and during the recovery phase, will probably not be considered good candidates for LASIK. If you are currently a smoker who is considering LASIK, you may as well address this difficult issue now. Can you quit smoking for a matter of months, and preferably permanently? Would you be willing to do so if it meant restoring your unaided vision and possibly bidding farewell to your glasses or contact lenses?

Ultimately, the choice is very personal and entirely your own. If you decide that you want to invest in the health of your eyes, please schedule your initial appointment at Gordon Wong Eye Designs & Optometry today.

How Cigarette Smoking Can Compromise LASIK Results

First, the fact that smoking has definitively been linked to a higher risk of virtually every eye disease except glaucoma should be evidence enough that it can quickly undo the results of LASIK surgery. However, it can affect LASIK results in very specific ways, as well:

  • It can increase the risk of post-surgical complications, such as infection: One of the reasons that patients are strongly urged to give up smoking weeks before their surgery is that smokers are more likely to suffer post-operative complications such as infection. Such complications could result in permanent damage to the eye.
  • It can interfere with healing: During the first few days of your healing, your eyes will be particularly vulnerable. Smoking is known to weaken the immune system and interfere with tissue healing. Keep in mind that tissue has been removed from your corneas; your corneas have, in essence, been wounded and are healing from those wounds. Smoking can prevent this process from occurring properly.
  • It can exacerbate dry eye: One of the more common side effects of LASIK is dry eye. In the vast majority of cases, this condition subsides as the eyes heal. However, smoking is also a known cause of dry eye. Between LASIK and smoking, patients can end up with permanent and severe dry eye syndrome.

Remember, there is help available if you want to quit smoking but are finding it difficult. Your eyes and your entire body will thank you for making the effort.

Learn More about LASIK and Cigarette Smoke

To learn more about LASIK and cigarette smoke, please contact Gordon Wong Eye Designs & Optometry today.

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