In the past decade, e-cigs, also known as vapes, have become a multibillion-dollar industry. But, despite their growing popularity, these trendy products have caused explosions, vision loss, chronic health issues, and now what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is referring to as an outbreak of deadly lung disease. So, what are the risks? And, are vapes safer than cigarettes for your long-term eye health? We’ve collected what you need know!
The problem with vapes
When e-cigs first were developed, they claimed to solve a serious problem: smoking. Because they don’t have tar, vapes initially appeared to be a healthier alternative to cigarettes. But as time has gone on, serious vape-related health problems have emerged.
Between the years of 2015 and 2017, over 2,000 individuals were admitted to the hospital due to vape explosions. While many suffered burns and lacerations, others faced jaw loss, eye loss, and even death. Caused by poor storage conditions, overcharging batteries, or using an improper charger, vape explosions have remained shockingly common.
In the e-cig industry, there are very few safety or regulatory guidelines. Unfortunately, this extends beyond vaporizers and charging apparatuses. Many popular vape liquids are unregulated. Often flavorful, sweet, and attractive to young people, vapors that are purchased online have been known to contain carcinogens, formaldehyde, and high levels of nicotine—even in pods that claim to be nicotine free. When people purchase unregulated materials to vaporize or choose illegal options like THC-infused pods, they expose their eyes and bodies to potentially deadly toxins.
What does this mean for eye health?
At the end of the day, there is no long-term research that shows exactly how vapes and chemical-filled vapors impact eye health. The trend is simply too young. However, what we do know is worrying.
Between exploding vapes, toxic chemicals, and deadly lung diseases now linked to THC-infused vapors, we know that vaping is associated with negative health consequences. Even in the absence of extreme reactions, some vapors irritate the eyes and exacerbate dry eye, all while delivering nicotine drug effects—elevated blood pressure, a faster heart rate, and insulin resistance. Some of these side effects are risk factors for serious eye conditions like diabetic eye diseases, glaucoma, retinopathy, and more.
If you or a loved one is considering vaping, we strongly urge against it. In 15 or 20 years, we may know more definitive links between vaping and eye health. Until then, skip this trend. In a world where vapes have been known to explode and leave victims with vision loss, you can never be too safe.