Is smoking bad for your eyesight?

Yes, smoking is bad for your eyesight and can often be the cause of many serious health issues. While you inhale smoke into your lungs, the toxins contained in cigarettes can spread throughout your entire body and can affect your eyes.

How does smoking affect your eyes?

The effects of smoking can lead to several different ocular problems. Cataracts are just one of these, clouding the eye’s naturally clear lens. This can strongly impair your vision and disrupt your day-to-day routine.

After the age of 50, you are more likely to experience deterioration in your sight. In particular, smoking can increase the chances of developing Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD). This is a common condition that wears out the macula (the middle part of your vision), causing blurriness, distortions and even blind spots in your central vision. While smoking does not directly cause AMD, many studies have found smokers have a higher chance of developing AMD than people who have never smoked. At the same time, non-smokers who live with smokers are twice as likely to develop AMD.

Dry eye is another effect of smoking on your eye. Exposure to smoke on any level can irritate your eyes, while cigarette fumes can contribute to dry eye syndrome and reduce the amount of oxygen that reaches your eyes. The fumes also breakdown the lipid layer of the tear film, interfering with the production of your tears and causing dry eye symptoms, such as redness, sore eyes, irritation and swelling.

Diabetic retinopathy is a common complication of diabetes that affects the eye. Blood vessels at the back of the eye are damaged, resulting in light sensitivity and even severe sight loss if not treated immediately, or if changes to your lifestyle aren’t made. Quitting smoking is one way to minimise the risk, as it is associated with diabetic retinopathy.

Smoking is also related to glaucoma, which causes the breakdown of the optic nerve and can lead to vision loss. Unfortunately, diabetes is also linked to glaucoma and if you are both diabetic and smoke, you increase the chances of being unable to see.

Can smoking cause blindness?

Smoking is known to cause serious illnesses such as lung cancer and heart disease. What many don’t realise, however, is that smoking can also lead to blindness. Long-term effects of smoking show strong relations to eye diseases and if not treated, you could in fact lose your sight completely.

To prevent vision loss, we recommend quitting smoking and leading a healthier lifestyle. This will highly reduce the risk of threatening eye conditions, and more importantly help prevent sight loss.