Smoking & Your Eyes

With so many different health problems now linked to smoking, it’s no wonder smoking has fallen out of vogue. Back 50 or 60 years ago, smoking was considered fashionable by many. Through medical research over the years, we have learned that smoking can cause cancer, emphysema, premature birth and low birthweight, wrinkled skin, etc. But did you know…


Smoking may cause or make worse the following conditions: Age-Related Macular Degeneration, Cataracts, Dry Eye Syndrome, Diabetic Retinopathy. How exactly?

Dry Eye Syndrome is more likely to affect smokers than non-smokers; the eyes are easily irritated by exposure to the smoke in the air.

Diabetic Retinopathy can be made worse by smoking. Smoking affects the blood vessels in the entire body, including the eyes. When diabetes is not controlled adequately, the health of the blood vessels is compromised, resulting in leaky retinal vessels – this is called Diabetic Retinopathy. Of course, smoking alone does not cause diabetic retinopathy, but it does increase the risk of diabetic eye complications.

Cataracts have a greater risk of forming early due to smoking, according to studies that have been performed over the last 20 years.

Age-Related Macular Degeneration results in vision loss due to deterioration in the macula, which is the central part of the retina responsible for sharp focus and color vision. AMD is a major cause of blindness in people over 60 years of age. Smoking has been identified as a major risk factor for AMD. See more on AMD at:

One way to help prevent problems with these conditions is to stop smoking and avoid secondhand smoke.

Kick the habit, & maximize your chance of enjoying excellent vision into your golden years!

Written by Bart W., Ophthalmic Technician for Milwaukee Eye Care