Do You Smoke? 4 Ways It Could Be Damaging Your Eyes

Did you know that cigarette smoke can harm your eyes? It's true. Research has shown that cigarette smoke can damage your eyes and increase your risk of developing serious vision problems. If you smoke, here are four vision problems you could be facing in the future.

Age-Related Macular Degeneration

As you age, your vision can deteriorate. Age-related macular degeneration – which is the deterioration of the macula in the central portion of the retina – can lead to blindness. In fact, according to research, it's the leading cause of blindness in people over the age of 60.

Research has found that the risk of developing this disease is four times greater if you smoke. The chemicals released in cigarette smoke are one reason smoking causes such a drastic increase in the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration.

The same research has found that there are roughly 4500 chemicals in cigarette smoke. Some of them, like arsenic and formaldehyde, act as oxidants. When you smoke, the chemicals come in contact with the moist tissue that protects the surface of your eyes.


Smoking also increases the risk of developing cataracts on your eyes. If you smoke a pack of cigarettes a day, it can actually double the risk, according to research. In healthy eyes, the lens is transparent. However, cataracts causes a thick crust or film to develop over the lens, which can lead to blindness. If you're bothered by cloudy vision and you smoke, you should have your vision checked as soon as possible.

Grave's Ophthalmopathy

If you're being treated for hyperthyroidism – an overactive thyroid – you are at an increased risk of developing an eye condition known as Grave's ophthalmopathy. If you smoke, you increase your chances of developing the disease. With Grave's ophthalmopathy, your eyes become swollen and bulge out of the sockets. In some cases, you may have difficulty closing your eyes all the way. You may experience irritation or sensitivity to light. You can reduce the chances of developing this disease by breaking the smoking habit.

Dry Eyes

If you smoke, you may notice that your eyes feel dry or irritated. Smoking can cause your eyes to dry out, which can make it difficult to wear contact lenses. Exposure to cigarette smoke can irritate the tear ducts, which can reduce their ability to produce sufficient tears.

If you smoke, you may be harming your vision. Your doctor or optometrist can provide you with information that can help you stop smoking.

Contact a professional like Dr Gary Wetmore Optometrist for more information.