The Connection Between Smoking & Eye Health

May 3, 2023 | Eye Health Info

We all know smoking is bad for our health, but did you know it can also affect your eyes? Smoking increases your risk of developing serious eye conditions that can cause vision loss or even blindness. Let’s take a closer look at the connection between smoking and eye health and what you can do to protect your vision.


Cataracts are cloudy areas in the lens of the eye that cause blurry vision and increased sensitivity to light. Smokers are two to three times more likely to develop cataracts than non-smokers, especially if they’ve smoked for many years.

Macular degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is an eye disease that affects your central vision. With AMD, vision loss occurs due to the breaking down of the macula, the part of your eye that processes what you see right in front of you. Smokers are two to three times more likely to develop AMD than non-smokers, and this risk increases with secondhand smoke exposure.

Dry eye syndrome

Dry eye syndrome is a condition where the eyes do not produce enough tears, or the tears evaporate too quickly. This can lead to discomfort, redness, and a feeling of grittiness in the eyes. While smoking doesn’t cause dry eye syndrome, it can worsen symptoms for people who already have the condition. Smokers are also more likely to have dry eye symptoms than non-smokers.

Other eye conditions linked to smoking

Smoking can also increase your risk of developing other conditions, including:

  • Optic nerve damage: Smoking can damage the optic nerve, which carries information from the eye to the brain, resulting in vision loss and even blindness.
  • Uveitis: Uveitis is an inflammation of the uvea, the middle layer of the eye. It can cause redness, pain, and blurred vision.
  • Graves’ ophthalmopathy: Graves’ ophthalmopathy is an autoimmune disorder that affects the eyes. It can cause bulging eyes, double vision, and vision loss.

How to protect your eye health

Quitting smoking is the best thing you can do to protect your eyes and prevent vision loss. Talk to your doctor about ways you can quit safely, so you can maintain healthy eyesight for years to come.

It’s also important to schedule regular eye exams to detect issues early. Early detection is key to treating and managing eye conditions. Your eye doctor can spot early warning signs of eye diseases and other health conditions and recommend the best treatment for your unique needs. If you smoke and are worried about your eye health, contact us today to schedule an eye exam in Las Vegas!

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