Smoking and Eye Diseases

Smoking fatally affects all the major parts of the body. Smoking can even be a major contributing risk factor for visual impairment. It is the most common cause of blindness in the Western world.

Major Eye Problems Caused By Smoking

  1. Smoking cigarettes increase risk for developing cataracts.
  2. Smoking causes loss of central vision
  3. It increases the risk of developing diabetic retinopathy
  4. Smoking can cause permanent blindness
  5. Smoking leads inflammation of the cornea and pink eye in children of Pregnant women.

Eye Diseases caused by Smoking:


People who smoke cigarettes are at increased risk for developing cataracts. It causes a number of vision problems, including blurry distance vision, sensitivity to glare, loss of contrast and difficulty seeing colors.

Untreated cataract causes complete loss of vision. In many cases surgery is the only option for cataract.

Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) affects the macula, the small central area of the retina, which is responsible for clear, central vision. Loss of central vision means that every activities such as reading, watching television, driving cannot be performed.

Studies have shown that current smokers and ex-smokers are more likely to develop AMD than people who have never smoked.

Smoking is the major preventable risk factor for AMD and smokers are more likely to suffer from all types of AMD.

Smoking and Diabetic Retinopathy

Smoking increases the risk of developing diabetic retinopathy, an eye complication associated with diabetes.In this case the blood vessels which supply blood to retina are damaged by high sugar levels. Smoking worsens this condition because smoking too damages blood vessels.

Optic Neuropathy

Smoking damages the optic nerves completely. This results in sudden, painless loss of vision, and often leads permanent blindness. Smokers develop this disease at an early age.

Thyroid Eye Disease

In some patients with thyroid disease (called Graves’ disease) who also have eye involvement, smoking can cause the eyes to become worse, with vision loss possible.

Passive Smoking and Eye Diseases:

  • Passive Smoking may increase the risk of late AMD.
  • Passive Smoking may cause the same diseases as active smoking but at a reduced risk.
  • Children born to women who smoke during pregnancy are more likely to develop bacterial meningitis. It leads to inflammation of the cornea and pink eye.

To ensure a proper visual health for you and your dears, it is better to quit smoking or not to start it in the first place.