Smoking and Your Eyes

It is well known that smoking is detrimental to your health. Smoking tobacco harms every organ in your body — your eyes included.

Last Updated: April 5, 2024

Smoking tobacco is a leading cause of premature death and disability in Canada.1

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Many smokers are not aware that their tobacco use can lead to blindness. Quit smoking. This lowers your risk of vision loss.

Smokers are at higher risk for the following conditions:

Dry Eye Disease

Smoke affects the level of moisture in the eyes, which can lead to discomfort and dry eye symptoms, especially when contact lenses are worn.

More about Dry Eye

Anterior Uveitis

Anterior uveitis is the inflammation of the uvea (the eye’s middle layer). Uveitis can lead to cataract formation, glaucoma, retinal detachment, and vision loss.

More about Anterior Uveitis

Macular Degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration is a condition that causes the center of your vision to blur while the side or peripheral vision remains unaffected. It is generally related to the aging process. Smoking significantly increases the risk of developing macular degeneration.

More about AMD

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetes and its complications can affect many parts of the eye. Diabetic retinopathy is the swelling and damage to the blood vessels of the retina related to diabetes that can result in blood leakage and other changes. If diabetic retinopathy is left untreated, this can lead to blindness. Smoking will exacerbate diabetic reinopathy.

More about Diabetes


A cataract forms when the clear lens inside your eye becomes cloudy. It can affect vision and generally develops as people get older.

More about Cataracts

Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA)

A possible cause of temporary vision loss is a serious condition called a transient ischemic attack, more commonly known as a TIA, or a “mini-stroke”. A TIA is a warning sign that a stroke may occur.

More about TIA

Grave’s Disease

Thyroid ophthalmopathy, also known as Grave’s Disease, is an autoimmune disease characterized by an increase in the volume of fatty connective tissue and enlargement of the muscles around the eye.

More about Grave’s Disease

Infant Eye Disorders

Smoking while pregnant increases the chance of many infant eye disorders, among other serious health problems. Studies have found that smoking during pregnancy is associated with higher rates of strabismus (crossed eyes), refractive errors, and retinopathy.2

More about smoking during pregnancy

1 Alam, S., Lang, J. J., Drucker, A. M., Gotay, C., Kozloff, N., Mate, K., ... & Cahill, L. E. (2019). Assessment of the burden of diseases and injuries attributable to risk factors in Canada from 1990 to 2016: an analysis of the Global Burden of Disease Study. Canadian Medical Association Open Access Journal, 7(1), E140-E148. Available from:

2 Fernandes, M., Yang, X., Li, J. Y., & Cheikh Ismail, L. (2015). Smoking during pregnancy and vision difficulties in children: a systematic review. Acta Ophthalmologica, 93(3), 213-223. Available from: