Heavy smokers may get more than smoke in their eyes, according to new research on the effects of smoking more than 20 cigarettes a day. A study in the journal Psychiatry Research found that chronic smokers have a diminished ability to distinguish colors and contrasts, and that over a prolonged period of using tobacco products, they experience significant changes to their color vision, both red-green and blue-yellow vision systems.
Researchers noted that previous studies on chronic smoking showed small but inconclusive evidence of heavy tobacco use on spatial and color vision, and this study expanded on previous findings. In this controlled study of non-smokers and chronic cigarette smokers, visual processing impairments were pronounced in the group of tobacco addicts. “Self-administered consumption of substances containing neurotoxic chemicals may be responsible for an overall color vision loss,” the study authors noted and added that further studies are needed to investigate “reduction on blood flow in the retina, oxidative stress, and even nutrient absorption.”
Of course, cigarette smoking has other drawbacks, too. In addition to causing conditions such as emphysema and cancers, cigarette smoking is expensive. Analysis published in January showed that at an annual cost of over $50,000 for smokers in the state of Connecticut, tobacco addicts could kick the habit and save enough to buy a car. At least some smokers have gotten that memo, or one of them. In 2018, smoking rates fell to an all-time low among adults in the U.S.