How Smoking Harms Your Eyes

red eyes from smoking


Although it is commonly known for affecting your heart and lungs, smoking cigarettes is harmful to every part of the body. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) lists cigarette smoking as a leading cause of preventable death in the United States. There are no positive effects your health if you smoke. It only creates or aggravates problems.


Here are some details about smoking’s effect on total body health. The CDC’s Health Effects of Cigarette Smoking report indicates smoking:

  1. Causes nearly 500,000 preventable deaths yearly
  2. Is responsible for about 90% of all lung cancer deaths
  3. Increases risk of stroke and coronary heart disease by 2 to 4 times
  4. Affects the health of your teeth and gums and can cause tooth loss
  5. Boosts risk for death from all causes in men and women

Smoking contributes to quite a few health ailments, yet side effects like eye problems and vision loss are seldom mentioned.

Impacts of Smoking on the Eyes

Smoking increases the risk of developing or worsening the following eye conditions:

  • Diabetic eye complications – Smoking raises the risk of developing diabetic retinopathy, a condition that damages the blood vessels in the retina, leading to vision issues.
  • Macular degeneration – A debilitating disease that causes the macula, a part of the retina, to deteriorate. This leads to loss of vision in the center section of the eye and possibly total vision impairment.
  • Cataracts – Chemicals in the cigarettes and smoke can break down the eye’s cells. This can cause cloudy lenses and the need for surgery to repair them.
  • Dry eye – Smoking can result in red, irritated, and uncomfortable eyes. Although it is not as severe a symptom as the others, clear vision and your quality of life could be affected.
  • Delayed healing – Smoking can slow down healing and increase the risk of complications after eye surgeries like LASIK or cataracts.
  • Uveitis – This disease is an inflammation of the eye’s middle layer, or uvea, and can lead to total vision loss.

Even if you are currently a smoker, you can make some changes that will have a positive impact on your health.


Reversing the Effects that Smoking has on the Eyes

Here are long and short-term ways to help your eye health if you or a loved one smokes:

Quit telling patient to stop smoking for their eye health

This will reduce or prevent any damage to your eyes.

Eat healthy.

A nutrient-rich diet that supports eye health should include Vitamins A, C, and E, along with Omega-3 fatty acids, nuts, and fruit.

Use humidifiers.

Humidifiers can help maintain proper moisture levels in the air, which can also relieve dry eye symptoms.

Practice good hygiene.

Don’t rub or put your fingers into your eyes. This can worsen existing irritation or damage.


Protecting your vision should be at the top of your to-do list. Quitting smoking is an effective step to achieving that goal. You should also make regular visits to your eye doctor for testing and to maintain your vision.

Take the first step of your journey to better eye health. Call and schedule your comprehensive eye examination at The Eye Center, with locations in Huntsville and Madison, at (256) 705-3937.