It’s no secret smoking can cause serious damage to various organs in your body, but did you know that smoking can also do major damage to your vision and eye health?

Tobacco use can cause vision impairment and increase the likelihood of vision loss.  It can also cause:

Dry Eyes

The skin around the eyes and tissue on the eye’s surface can all be affected by smoking.  Since tobacco smoke is a drying agent, it can evaporate the eye’s natural moisture.  This can lead to discomfort especially when wearing contact lenses.  Additionally, chemicals found in tobacco smoke have been known to cause cellular damage in the eye, which can increase the chances of corneal eye infections.


Uveitis is a condition that causes inflammation in the uvea – the middle layer of the eye.  This condition damages the structure of the eye and can lead to cataracts, glaucoma, retinal detachment and vision loss.  For smokers, the risk of uveitis doubles.

Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration is a condition resulting in the deterioration of a person’s central vision.  Regardless of age, smoking increases the risk of this condition.

Diabetic Retinopathy

Smoking can also increase a person’s risk of developing diabetic retinopathy, a disease that affects the light-sensitive tissue lining the back of the eye, the retina and can result in vision loss or blindness.


Cataracts cause the eye’s lens to cloud and smokers are at higher risk of developing them.

Pregnancy and Infant Eye Disease

Smoking while pregnant can result in a premature delivery, increasing a child’s risk for a potentially blinding disease called retinopathy of prematurity.  Smoking while pregnant can also increase a child’s likelihood of developing:

  • Strabismus (crossed eyes)
  • Refractive errors (nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism)
  • Retinal problems
  • Optic nerve problems


An optometrist can help treat and manage the visual effects of smoking.  However, the best way to prevent these conditions is by quitting.  When a person stops smoking, the risk of developing some eye diseases becomes almost a low as non-smokers.