A New Smoking Story: Vision Loss

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a leading cause of vision loss is now clearly linked to smoking. A woman fighting to save her eyesight tells her story in CDC’s Tips from a Former Smoker.

Losing your vision is among a long list of illnesses that are linked to smoking – but it comes as a surprise to many smokers. Marlene certainly never imagined that smoking could lead to a serious eye disease or even blindness when she started smoking in high school. Smoking causes immediate and long-term damage to the body, including heart disease, diabetes, and many types of cancer. In 2014, the U.S. Surgeon General’s report, The Health Consequences of Smoking – 50 Years of Progress, confirmed that macular degeneration, Marlene’s eye disease, can be caused by smoking.

Marlene shares her story in the hopes that her personal struggles will inspire smokers to quit.

Marlene first noticed vision problems at age 56. She had trouble reading. She accidentally cut herself in the kitchen. And she would fall, even when walking down only a few steps. Her doctor told her to quit smoking if she wanted to keep even a small portion of her eyesight. She needs shots in one or both eyes every month to avoid even more vision loss, which could leave her legally blind. According to Marlene, “Nothing at all – food, drink, cigarettes, nothing – is worth going through what I’m going through.”