How does smoking affect the eyes?

People who smoke cigarettes are at increased risk for developing cataracts, a clouding of the naturally clear lens of the eye. Cataracts cause a variety of vision problems, including blurry distance vision, sensitivity to glare, loss of contrast and difficulty seeing colors. When eyeglasses or magnifiers are no longer helpful for someone with cataracts, or when cataracts develop in both eyes, surgery is the only option.
Tobacco smoking is also one of the preventable risk factors for age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Studies have shown that current smokers and ex-smokers are more likely to develop AMD than people who have never smoked. AMD has two forms: dry (called atrophic or non-neovascular) AMD and wet (called exudative or neovascular) AMD. In dry AMD, your retina gradually thins. There is no proven cure for this type of degenerative disease. In wet AMD, new blood vessels grow in the retina, leak blood or fluid and damage the macula, the part of the retina responsible for your central vision. The types of treatment currently available for specific forms of wet AMD are standard laser surgery, photodynamic laser surgery, and medication injection, all of which may stabilize the disease.
In people with high blood-sugar levels, some studies suggest that smoking may be linked to diabetic retinopathy, or damage to the blood vessels in the retina.
The optic nerve is also susceptible to damage from smoking. People with poor diets who smoke heavily and drink excessive amounts of alcohol run the risk of developing optic nerve-related vision loss (called tobacco-alcohol amblyopia). Certain optic nerve problems run in families (called Leber’s optic neuropathy). People with this condition who smoke have increased risk of vision loss. 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.
People who do not produce enough tears to keep their eyes comfortably lubricated have a condition called dry eye. For these people, smoking is a significant irritant, worsening the symptoms of scratchiness, stinging or burning of the eyes, and excess tearing from irritation. 

Continue Learning about Impact Of Nicotine Addiction On The Body

does nicotine cause cancer ?
Diana MeeksDiana Meeks
Nicotine itself does not cause cancer. The smoking or other habits that deliver the nicotine to the ...
More Answers
can a woman reduce her cancer risk if she stops smoking ?
Dr. Robin Miller, MDDr. Robin Miller, MD
Plenty of women don't kick the habit because they think the damage is done. In this video, Dr. Robin...
More Answers
what are the health risks of smoking cigars ?
International Bipolar FoundationInternational Bipolar Foundation
Cigar smokers increase their health risks, whether or not they inhale. They directly expose their li...
More Answers
what is the link between smoking and lung cancer ?
Smoking is the No. 1 cause of lung cancer. About 80% of lung cancers are thought to be the result of...
More Answers

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.