Can Smoking Affect My Eyes or My Vision?

Posted by: Missouri Eye Institute in Blog on November 1, 2023

Eyes are very complicated organs. They allow you to see things at different distances, track movement, distinguish between colors and contrast levels, and even function in low light. 

However, they are also very fragile. Smoking is a habit that affects your health across the board. 

The risk of lung disease, heart disease, and many other conditions are dramatically increased by smoking. Your delicate eyes are definitely not an exception. 

Keep reading to learn more about how smoking can affect your eyes and vision, including some examples of just a few eye conditions for which smoking increases the risk! 

Dry Eye

Dry eye is a common problem that can have various causes. It is the result of eyes that either don’t produce enough tears, produce tears that don’t hydrate the eye properly, or a combination of both factors. 

If smoking is not the cause of your dry eye, it will likely make the symptoms much worse. Aside from the internal health effects of smoking, the smoke itself can irritate your eyes. 

This exacerbates dry eye symptoms, making it immediately worse.

How is Dry Eye Treated?

Quitting or reducing smoking can go a long way toward treating dry eye. However, it is not always the root problem. You may need additional treatment beyond adjusting your habits.

Artificial tears can help manage symptoms but won’t treat the underlying issues. To do that, you need treatments that will increase tear production or tear quality. 

Treatment options may include tear-stimulating drugs or therapies that unblock specific glands in your eyelids.     

Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration is a disease that affects the center of your vision. Specifically, it targets the macula, which is the center of your retina. 

The retina is a thin sheet of tissue on the back interior wall of your eye. It contains the highest concentration of light-sensitive cells and is very important to vision. 

As the macula slowly thins and degrades from macular degeneration, you permanently lose central vision. This is a very serious disease, and smoking increases your risk of developing it by a lot. 

Studies show that smoking can increase your risk of developing macular degeneration.

How is Macular Degeneration Treated?

Macular degeneration usually cannot be treated, although some medications and supplements can help slow its progress. If you lose vision due to macular degeneration, you may not be able to regain this vision.

Focusing on prevention should always be a priority, but especially with problems like macular degeneration. 


Uveitis causes your eye to become inflamed, usually as a response to infection. It can cause sudden and painful symptoms and can even lead to permanent vision loss. 

While half of uveitis does not have a clear cause, smoking likely increases the risk of developing uveitis, which is more difficult to control. 

How is Uveitis Treated?

Anti-inflammatory drugs can help in the short term, but you may need medication to fight the infection. You may also need medicine to suppress your immune system in some cases. 

Quitting smoking can be difficult, but it is always worth it. If you have questions about eye health or are concerned about your risk of developing eye disease, it’s important to visit your eye doctor.

Do you want to learn more about how smoking affects your vision or determine if you’re at risk for eye conditions? Schedule an appointment at Missouri Eye Institute in Springfield, MO, today!


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