It’s Never too Late to Quit: Why Smoking Can Ruin Your Vision

Smoking is terrible for overall health, but it is particularly bad for eye health and can exacerbate conditions that trigger vision loss. Here’s what you need to know about smoking and your eyes. OptiExpress provides comprehensive eye exams, contact lens fittings, a gallery of designer frames, and a one-hour onsite lab.

There is no part of the body that smoking does not imperil, but we don’t necessarily think of how it affects our eyes. We associate smoking with conditions of the lungs, like lung cancer and emphysema, and we should also consider the different ways our eyes can be harmed. Here are some of the ways smoking can damage our eyes.

Smoking makes you vulnerable to age-related eye conditions.

Study after study has found smoking to be a major factor in the development of a wide range of eye conditions, including glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration.

Smoking is associated with the development of cataracts.

Smoking more than doubles your risk of cataracts, which are the number-one cause of blindness worldwide. Symptoms of cataracts include reduced night vision, double vision, poor color distinction, and light sensitivity.

Smoking is associated with diabetic retinopathy.

Diabetes weakens blood vessels in the eyes, which can burst and inhibit the circulation of oxygen within the eye. While diabetes is the major factor in diabetic retinopathy, smoking is a significant trigger for the disease, increasing the likelihood of developing the condition by approximately 40 percent. Smoking also increases the possibility of complications from diabetes.

Smoking is associated with age-related macular degeneration.

The macula is the component within the eye that processes colors and fine details. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the deterioration of the macula, resulting in total and uncorrectable blindness. Smoking more than triples the risk of developing AMD, and also accelerates the development of the condition, so smokers are likelier to develop AMD at a younger age than nonsmokers.

Second-hand smoke is also associated with eye conditions.

Although smokers are inevitably more vulnerable to serious health conditions than non-smokers, people who have been exposed to second-hand smoke are also at risk of significant issues, too. Second-hand smoke has been known to cause a multitude of medical issues, including heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, asthma, and more. Children are also at risk of developing medical conditions from cigarette smoke exposure.

There is no safe method for using tobacco products.

Different nicotine products — most notably vaping — have become popular alternatives to cigarettes, but any consumption of a tobacco product is a risky proposition to your health. There are several chemicals in the e-liquids used for vaping that are associated with eye issues, so it’s best to simply not use them.

Quitting tobacco use is the best way to avoid tobacco-related eye conditions.

The sooner you quit using tobacco products, the better. While certain eye conditions are an inevitable part of aging, smoking exacerbates the deterioration of the eyes. If you’re a lifelong smoker or a heavy smoker, quitting now will significantly reduce your risk of developing eye disorders.

At OptiExpress, we offer comprehensive eye health services, from thorough eye exams to a gallery of beautiful designer frames. Whether you want a fitting for contact lenses or want the latest Dolce and Gabbana frames, we are proud to be South Florida’s go-to eye care resource!

OptiExpress founder Dr. J. Michael Witherington is proud to be one of Ft. Myers’s most valued optometrists and has served South Florida for more than two decades. To schedule an eye exam at our Ft. Myers or Cape Coral location, please visit our contact page.