Smoking doesn't only affect your heart and your lungs. Medical News Today reports that it may affect your eyes, too.

Swedish researchers surveyed 44, 371 men between 45 and 79 years old about their smoking and lifestyle habits. They found that those who smoked an additional 15 sticks a day increased their risk of having to undergo a cataract operation by 42 percent.

What's more alarming is that smoking has also been linked to "age-related macular degeneration (which affects central vision), Grave's opthalmopathy (caused by autoimmune disorder of the thyroid gland), and ocular inflammation."

Researchers believe that aside from the increase in free radicals and lowered levels of antioxidants, oxidative stress may also be one of the reasons behind smoking-related eye problems. The good news is that the eyes may slowly begin their healing process upon quitting the habit.

“Long-time exposure of oxidative stress leads to accumulation of damaged lens proteins, thus promoting cataract development. Cigarette smoke also contains toxic metal ions, and cadmium can accumulate in cataracts lenses of smokers.”

“Smoking cessation decreased the risk with time, indicating that the lens has some ability to repair protein damage with time, probably halting oxidative stress, although it takes longer for the lens to recover with higher smoking intensity,” the authors explain.

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(Photo by danieljordahl via Flickr Creative Commons)

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