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Bad Habit: What Smoking Does to Your Eyesight – Bard Optical

Bad Habit: What Smoking Does to Your Eyesight

Man smoking a cigerette

It’s no secret that smoking negatively affects many parts of your body, but can smoking affect your eyes?

As it turns out, it can—in more ways than you may think.


Cataracts, the leading cause of blindness in the world, is one of the most common and dangerous side-effects of smoking.

The number of people in the U.S. who get cataracts is expected to double by the year 2050, according to the National Eye Institute.

Smokers have a significantly greater chance of developing a cataract than the already high number of people who are considered non-smokers, around double the chance.


Macular Degeneration

Studies show that smokers are three times as likely to develop age-related macular degeneration or AMD.

Macular degeneration affects the center of the eye, causing blind spots, and makes a sharp, focused, line of sight nearly impossible.

This condition can affect your ability to perform tasks that require this focused vision, like driving, reading, and recognizing faces.


Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy, a condition brought on by the onset of diabetes, affects the retina in your eye and can cause total blindness.

Smoking causes your body to be more susceptible to diseases like diabetes, diabetic retinopathy, and other diabetes-related conditions.

More than 5 million Americans over the age of 40 have diabetic retinopathy.



Uveitis, a lesser-known eye condition, is the serious inflammation of the middle layer of the eye, called the uvea.

This threatening condition can also cause total blindness in the affected, and also has a higher chance of being contracted by those who smoke.

Uveitis doesn’t just harm the uvea, however. It can also affect your iris and retina.

All the parts of your eye that are affected by uveitis are vital to your ability to see, and thus are a detriment to your health if they are affected by a preventable disease like uveitis.

Smokers are 2.2 times more likely to contract uveitis.


Infant Eye Disease

As often labeled on the Surgeon General’s warnings on a pack of cigarettes, pregnant women who smoke can cause irreparable damage to their babies.

One such condition that a baby can contract as a result of smoking is an infant eye disease.

The two most common forms of infant eye disease are strabismus, or the child having crossed eyes upon development, and underdevelopment of the child’s optic nerve, which causes the child to be totally blind.

In addition to these diseases, mothers who smoke while pregnant are at a much higher risk of giving birth prematurely.

Babies who are born prematurely are at a greater risk of not only the before-mentioned diseases but a myriad of other diseases that can permanently harm the child.

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