How Smoking Damages Your Eyes - Advanced Eye Care

How Smoking Damages Your Eyes

With new year’s resolutions abounding, quitting the smoking habit is often among the most popular – and for good reason. When you think about the negative effects of smoking tobacco, health problems like lung cancer, emphysema, coronary heart disease and strokes come to mind. You probably don’t, however, think about the ways that smoking damages your eyes. Numerous studies show that smoking tobacco can cause serious problems for your eyes.

Smokers Have a High Risk of Developing Cataracts

According to the National Eye Institute, smoking is one of the leading contributors to cataracts. Cataracts are common with age, but smoking, alcohol use and prolonged exposure to ultraviolet light may speed progression.


As cataracts develop, they cloud the eye’s lens, making it difficult to see. Early symptoms include blurry vision, difficulty seeing at night and trouble recognizing faces. Without surgical treatment, cataracts continue to worsen until sight is lost completely.

Smoking Increases Your Risk of Glaucoma

Smoking tobacco indirectly increases the risk of developing glaucoma by raising your blood pressure. Having high blood pressure increases the pressure in your eyes. Most types of glaucoma have no noticeable symptoms until late in the disease process. Your eye doctor can see and measure changes in the optic nerve long before vision loss occurs.

Smoking Puts You at Risk of Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of vision loss in the United States. Projections show that about 3.5 million people in 2030 will experience AMD in the U.S. Not smoking, however, can significantly lower the chances of developing AMD. In fact, smokers are about four times more likely to get AMD than non-smokers.

Smoking Contributes to Dry Eye Syndrome

Considering that tobacco smoke contains over 7,000 chemicals, it’s not surprising that exposure to this smoke causes eye irritation. Smoking can even contribute to dry eye syndrome.


Normally, your eyes produce tears that protect them from dust, dirt and other small particles. Some of the chemicals in cigarette smoke, however, makes tears less effective at their job.

Ceasing to smoke is the best way to protect yourself from eye damage. If you have already noticed problems with your eyes, make an appointment at Advanced Eye Care so an eye doctor can assess the situation and help you find a successful treatment option before it’s too late.