Smoking and Your Eyes

Smoking and Your Eyes 

Cigarettes with a slash to indicate quitting smoking.

November is National Smoking Cessation Month! It is a well known fact that smoking is very bad for your body. Smoking leads to heart disease, pulmonary disease, and cancer. What you may not know is that smoking is equally as bad for your eyes. In this blog, we’ll discuss some of the adverse effects smoking can have on your eyes.

Macular Degeneration

Smokers are at increased risk of Macular Degeneration. This disease affects the central vision and causes permanent loss of the sharp, detailed vision that is formed in the macula, and can lead to blindness.  According to Macular Society, smokers are up to four times more likely than non-smokers to develop age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and smokers with a genetic predisposition to AMD are 20 times more likely to get the condition. There is no cure for this disease. 


According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), smokers are 30-40% more likely to develop diabetes than non-smokers. Diabetes affects the blood vessels in the eyes, and is a leading cause of blindness in the US. Diabetes also leads to heart disease, kidney failure, and damage to the circulatory system and nerves that may result in amputation of the feet or legs according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).


Smokers are also at increased risk for developing cataracts. Cataracts occur when the crystalline lens of the eye becomes opaque, causing vision to become blurry and dim. This leads to blurry vision, trouble seeing at night, and glare around bright lights. The only treatment for cataracts is surgery. For more information about cataracts, read our blog Cataract Awareness


According to the scientific journal Eye, a 2018 study showed that smokers had a higher likelihood of a diagnosis of glaucoma. This disease is characterized by damage to the optic nerve as a result of increased pressure inside the eye. It causes the loss of peripheral vision and can lead to blindness. There are many treatments for glaucoma, including medication and surgery, however there is no cure. 

Dry Eye

Cigarette smoke is an irritant that can lead to symptoms of dry eye. These symptoms include burning, redness, and watery eyes. Smokers are more likely to experience these symptoms than non-smokers. For more information about dry eye, read our blog.

Healthy vision is important to everyone. If you smoke, you run the risk of permanent eye damage or blindness. For resources to help you quit smoking, visit Thank you for reading our blog, and remember that new posts are added weekly at

Written by: Gina Stafford COA, LDO, ABOC


Macular Society: Smoking,likely%20to%20get%20the%20condition.

Centers for Disease Control: Vision Loss, Blindness, and Smoking

Food and Drug Administration: Cigarette Smoking: A Risk Factor for Type 2 Diabetes Cigarette Smoking and Glaucoma in the United States Population

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