How Smoking Affects Your Eyes

A man with a beard squints at the camera and smokes a cigarette

Few people need to be told that smoking is bad for their health, but it’s worth considering how it affects all parts of your body — including your eyes. Unfortunately, the conditions can affect you whether you smoke or you’re around someone who does. Different parts of the eye can be damaged and cause lasting conditions. 


AMD (Age-Related Macular Degeneration) is a common disease linked to the passage of time, but the reality is that you’re more likely to get it if you smoke. As you get older, the retina can’t see the details like it used to. There is no cure for this condition, so it’s especially important to avoid.


You’re more at risk for cataracts if you smoke. With cataracts, the lens is affected as opposed to the retina (as with AMD). Side effects include blurred vision where colors look either dull or yellowish. You can clear up the lens of your eye with surgery, but why risk potential complications if you don’t have to?

Vessels and Nerves

Damaged blood vessels will also cloud your vision and can even lead to blindness. The same is true for a damaged optic nerve, the link between your brain and eye. Optic nerve disorders like glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy are more likely to occur if you’re a smoker.

Thyroid Gland

When your thyroid gland is overactive, your eyes may start to bulge and lose their ability to see. The most common example of this can be seen in Graves’ disease. And while this disease isn’t caused by smoking, your eyes are likely to get worse if you’re around this nasty habit.

And it’s not just your eyes that are affected. Smoke and second-hand smoke can also impact your child’s eyes if you’re pregnant, causing permanent vision loss or blindness. If your toddler happens to be in the direct line of smoke, it can also be especially damaging for their developing eyesight.

Taking Care of Your Eyes

Not every smoker will develop one or more of these conditions, but you increase the odds enough that you should factor it into your decision-making process. Florida Eye Specialists understands how important it is to go the extra mile for your eyes, which is why we have 8 locations in the Jacksonville area, including St. Augustine and Palatka. If you’re concerned about eye health or you just want a clinical assessment, contact us today for an appointment. We even offer virtual sessions, so you can get the advice you need without leaving the house.