You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience.

Close [x]


Exclusive Offer

New Patients Receive
A Free Consultation!

How Smoking Damages the Eye

eye damage smoking cigarettes

3 Reasons to Stop Smoking Today

Sometimes, it is easier to stop smoking if you have a good reason to give up the habit. If you are undecided, consider one of these three reasons.

Quitting Prevents Damage to Your Eyes

Without good vision, your whole world changes. Little things, such as driving to the store for a gallon of milk or reading a bedtime story to your children or grandchildren, become impossible. Quitting smoking will help you preserve your eyesight and allow you to continue to do the things you enjoy.

Quitting Prevents Damage to Your Pets’ Eyes

Smoking doesn’t just damage your eyes, it can also affect the health of your pets.  Not only can your pets suffer from the same aliments as smokers, they also run an increased risk of nasal and oral cancers due to dogs’ sniffing habits and cats’ tedious grooming routines.   

Smoking Doesn't Just Affect You

Secondhand smoke affects your family and friends and has been linked to asthma flare ups, respiratory infections, sudden infant death syndrome, chronic cough, and frequent ear infections. If you smoke while you are pregnant, your baby may be more likely to experience optic nerve problems or crossed eyes.

Smoking does not just increase your risk of heart disease, cancer, and other diseases, but can also damage your eyes. Although some changes to your eyes, such as dry eye, can be reversed, others cause lasting, irreversible damage. Before you light your next cigarette, consider the many ways the habit can affect your vision.

Impaired Central Vision

Smoking increases your risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The macula is the part of the retina responsible for central vision. The retina lines the back of your eye and sends impulses to the brain, which interprets them as the images you see.

When you have AMD, cells in the macula begin to deteriorate, affecting your ability to read, drive, and recognize faces. Smokers have two to three times the risk of developing AMD as non-smokers, according to a systemic review published in the online journal, “Eye.”

If you develop AMD, you may notice that:


Cataracts are a natural consequence of aging for many people, but you are twice as likely to develop them if you smoke. Cataracts cause the clear lens inside your eye to become cloudy. Your lens helps focus light images on the retina. When the lens loses its natural transparency, your vision becomes blurred. In addition to blurred vision, signs of cataracts include:


Smoking also increases your risk of developing uveitis, an infection that can lead to blindness. Uveitis affects the middle layer of the eye and causes redness, pain, and blurred vision. Untreated uveitis can lead to optic nerve degeneration, retinal detachment, glaucoma, and cataracts. When Proctor Foundation doctors reviewed uveitis risk factors for their eye clinic patients, they discovered that smokers were 2.2 times more likely to develop uveitis than non-smokers.

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness and vision impairment in working age adults, according to the National Eye Institute. Smoking increases your risk of developing diabetes and may speed the progression of diabetic retinopathy.

Diabetic retinopathy occurs when blood vessels in your retina begin to leak blood or fluid. As the blood or fluid builds up in your eye, your vision becomes distorted. In the later stages of the disease, new, abnormal blood vessels begin to grow in the retina. Because these vessels cause cell loss and scarring, your vision becomes permanently impaired.

Dry Eye

Exposure to cigarette or cigar smoke can irritate and dry your eyes. Although dry eye does not usually cause lasting damage to your eyes, the condition can be very uncomfortable and can make it difficult to successfully wear contact lenses. Symptoms of dry eye include:

If you smoke, regular eye examinations are a must. If it's been a while since your last exam, give us a call.


All About Vision: How Smoking Harms Your Vision


New York State Department of Health: Smoking Can Lead to Vision Loss or Blindness


CDC: The New Smoking Story


U.S. Surgeon General: Health Consequences of Smoking – 50 Years of Progress


Eye: Smoking and Age-Related Macular Degeneration


American Lung Association: Reasons to Quit Smoking


Ophthalmology: Cigarette Smoking as a Risk Factor for Uveitis, 3/1/11


National Eye Institute: Facts About Diabetic Eye Disease, 9/15


Live Science: Secondhand Smoke Causes Cancer in Pets



I have benefited tremendously from the eye care I received from Dr. Anderson.

John Doe / San Diego, CA

Office Hours

Monday8 - 112 - 5
Tuesday8 - 11Closed
Wednesday8 - 112 - 5
Thursday8 - 11Closed
Friday8 - 112 - 5
SaturdayBy Appt.Closed
Day Morning Afternoon
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
8 - 11 8 - 11 8 - 11 8 - 11 8 - 11 By Appt. Closed
2 - 5 Closed 2 - 5 Closed 2 - 5 Closed Closed
Skin Selector
Close Window

Select a Generation 4 iMatrix Optometry™ website skin by clicking on a thumbnail below.

Skin 24a Skin 24b Skin 24c Skin 24d Skin 24e Skin 24f Skin 23a Skin 23b Skin 23c Skin 23d Skin 23e Skin 23f Skin 22a Skin 22b Skin 22c Skin 22d Skin 22e Skin 21a Skin 21b Skin 21c Skin 21d Skin 21e Skin 21f Skin 20a Skin 20b Skin 20c Skin 20d Skin 20e Skin 19a Skin 19b Skin 19c Skin 19d Skin 19e Skin 18a Skin 18b Skin 18c Skin 18d Skin 18e Skin 18f Skin 18g Skin 18h Skin 18i Skin 18j Skin 16a Skin 16b Skin 16c Skin 16d Skin 16e Skin 16f Skin 16g Skin 16h Skin 16i Skin 16j Skin 16k Skin 15a Skin 15b Skin 15c Skin 15d Skin 15e Skin 15f Skin 15g Skin 15h Skin 15i Skin 15j Skin 15k