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Effect Of Smoking On Eye Health

July 26, 2021


Smoking has become a lifestyle habit of many individuals throughout the world. Smoking is harmful to human health.

Tobacco smoke is generated through cigarettes and other tobacco products. Tobacco smoke contains more than 4000 substances such as carcinogens, irritants and inflammatory agents.

These products can cause damage to the individual who is smoking. However, it has also a significant effect on the people who are exposed to tobacco smoke.

Smoking causes more than 48000 deaths per year and approximately 34.1 million adults smoke cigarette currently. Smoking can not only damage your health but also interrupt your vision. It also becomes the reason behind many eye diseases.

Why Smoking Is Not Good For Overall Health?

Smoking can harm almost every organ of the body. Smoking causes several diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, tuberculosis, diabetes, respiratory diseases include emphysema & chronic bronchitis.

Second-hand smoke is a combination of smoke from the end of cigarette smoke and the smoke inhaled involuntarily by non-smokers. It can also cause:

  • Stroke
  • Lung cancer
  • Acute respiratory infection
  • Middle ear disease
  • Severe asthma

Eye Conditions Caused By Smoking

Some of the eye conditions caused by smoking are:

Cataracts: A cataract is a leading cause of blindness. Many studies show that the risk of forming cataract becomes 2 to 3 times more in smokers compared to non-smokers. The more you smoke the more will be the risk of developing cataract.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD): AMD is a disease in which the central vision of the eye is affected. Central vision is responsible for clear vision, reading, driving and facial recognition.

Smoking blocks the blood vessels of the retina and increases the blood pressure in that area. Smoking increases the risk of AMD by three times compared to non-smokers. The risk of AMD also increases with old age and it will become five times dangerous for smokers.

Uveitis: Uveitis is a condition of inflammation in the central layer of the eye called the choroid . Uveitis develops due to the chemicals present in cigarettes. It can also cause glaucoma, cataract, retinal detachment and ultimately vision loss. The risk of development of uveitis is 2.2 times more in smokers than in non-smokers.

Glaucoma: Glaucoma cause damage to the optic nerve that is not beneficial for good vision. Smoking increases blood pressure, cataract and diabetes all of which are risk factors for glaucoma.

Diabetic retinopathy: Studies show the aggravation in diabetes as well as in diabetes retinopathy by 40 % due to smoking. Diabetes damages the blood vessels of the retina and causes blindness. Smoking can increase the risk of diabetic retinopathy by two times.

Dry Eyes: Smoking with dry eyes can increase irritation, burning sensation and redness in the eyes.

Grave’s disease: It is a condition of inflammation of tissues and muscles of the eye and deposition of fat in the eye socket due to an auto immune condition affecting the thyroid gland. Several studies have evidence that individuals who smoke have a greater risk of thyroid eye disease than non-smokers.

Infant Eye Disease (If a mother smokes during pregnancy): Smoke has dangerous toxins that transmit to the placenta during pregnancy. These toxins have the potential to harm the foetus.

Smoking during pregnancy can lead to the premature birth of the  baby. It increases the risk of a serious eye problem called “retinopathy of prematurity”.

According to the new study, the signs and symptoms of eye disease in children caused by smoking can develop as early as about six years of age.

How To Get Rid Of Smoking?

There are several ways that can help you to get rid of smoking:

  • Try to quit smoking gradually rather than suddenly stopping.
  • Keep yourself busy
  • Drink more liquid
  • Say no to alcohol
  • Stay away from individuals who smoke regularly. It will increase your urge to smoke.
  • You can also use NRTs (Nicotine replacement therapy) or other medicines


Quitting smoking can improve your health as well as it will also take care of individuals near you. Avoid smoking and preventing second hand smoke can decrease the risk of developing many sight-threatening eye conditions. Apart from quitting smoking, there are several ways to protect your eyes. Blinking the eye frequently can reduce the risk of dry eye diseases. Controlling blood pressure, cholesterol and blood glucose can also help maintain good visual acuity.


Ojas Eye Hospital A Center of Excellence for Contoura Vision, Femto Bladefree Lasik in Mumbai, India.