Smoking & Eye Disease

Smoking & Eye Disease

While it is common knowledge that smoking can be damaging to our health, many people are unaware that smokers are at a much greater risk of developing eye health problems compared to non-smokers.

It is important that smokers are aware of the conditions they are at a higher risk of developing so they can effectively monitor their health.

Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

Age-Related Macular Degeneration is a condition that effects the retina, which is responsible for sharp, central vision needed for everyday tasks such as reading and driving.

Macular Degeneration causes blind spots to develop in your vision and if left untreated will severely impair your vision.

Studies show smokers 3 times more likely to develop AMD compared with people who have never smoked. Additionally, female smokers over age 80 are 5 times more likely to develop AMD than non-smokers of the same age.

Smoking has been found to be the biggest controllable risk factor associated with AMD and quitting smoking at any age, even later in life, can significantly reduce your risk of developing the disease.


Uveitis causes inflammation of the eye’s middle layer, or urea, and is a serious eye disease that can result in complete loss of vision.

The condition harms vital structures of the eye, leaving you more at risk of developing conditions such as cataracts, glaucoma and retinal detachment.

Smokers have been linked to having an increased chance of developing uveitis. One study found smoking was associated with a 2 times greater than normal risk of having the condition.

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy damages the blood vessels of the retina and can result in vision loss.

Smoking may as much as double the risk of developing diabetes.

There also is a causal relationship between smoking and both the development and progression of diabetic retinopathy, in addition to numerous other diabetes complications.

Dry Eye Syndrome

Dry Eye Syndrome is a condition where the eye is not adequately lubricated. Sufferers of dry eye can experience eye redness, itchiness, a “foreign body” sensation and even watery eyes.

Tobacco smoke is a known eye irritant and worsens dry eye — even among second-hand smokers — particularly for contact lens wearers. People who smoke are nearly twice as likely to have dry eyes.

Infant Eye Disease

Women who smoke during pregnancy transmit dangerous toxins to the placenta, potentially harming the unborn child. Smoking while pregnant increases the chance of many fetal and infant eye disorders, among other serious health problems.

Vision problems of premature babies include retinopathy of prematurity, a potentially blinding disease.

For more information on the conditions that can effect smokers, click here.