Quit Smoking Today, the Future of Your Eyes Depends on It

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Plenty of reasons exist to quit smoking. Cigarettes are expensive, your teeth and fingers get stained, smoking is highly addictive, and most importantly it is dangerous to your health! Smoking affects every part of your body including your lungs, heart, nervous system, digestive system, and reproductive system. Thought it couldn’t get any worse? Smoking also increases your chances of developing eye related diseases such as cataracts, macular degeneration, uveitis, diabetic retinopathy and dry eyes. Continue reading to find out more about the effect smoking has on the health of your eyes!



Cataracts are a clouding of your eyes’ natural lens. Many people develop cataracts as a natural part of life, but smokers are twice as likely to develop a cataract in their lifetime than those who do not smoke, according to allaboutvision.org. The more you smoke, the more your risk increases!


Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration affects the center of the retina, leading to blind spots and central vision loss. There is no way to regain vision lost to macular degeneration. Smokers are three times more likely to develop macular degeneration than non-smokers, according to allaboutvision.org. The best way to reduce your risk of macular degeneration is by quitting smoking.



Uveitis is inflammation of the middle layer of the eye, or the uvea. Uveitis is harmful to your eye. Some symptoms of uveitis include redness, sensitivity to light, and blurred vision. Uveitis can be caused by infections, systemic inflammatory diseases, or eye injury. While smoking does not cause uveitis, it can increase your risk of developing uveitis.


Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is damage to blood vessels in the retina of the eye. If you have diabetes, you should have regular comprehensive eye exams to help look for signs of diabetic retinopathy as it can result in a loss of vision. Anyone who has diabetes is at risk for developing diabetic retinopathy, especially if your diabetes is uncontrolled. Smoking also increases your risk of developing diabetic retinopathy.


Dry Eyes

Dry eyes are irritating and uncomfortable causing itching, watering, or a foreign body sensation. Cigarette smoke is an irritant and can worsen dry eye symptoms as it breaks down the protective barrier on the surface of your eyes. Not only can smoking increase your dry eye symptoms, but it can also worsen dry eye symptoms for those around you as well.


If you are a smoker and want to improve your eye health, and overall health, the first step is to stop smoking. It is important to have regular comprehensive exams to monitor the health of your eyes, smoker or not, to monitor for any of the above conditions.


Dr. Ralph Chu LASIK surgeon Minneapolis Ophthalmologists

Board-certified ophthalmologist Dr. Ralph Chu is a fellowship-trained corneal specialist and a nationally recognized leader in refractive and cataract procedures. His specialty areas include cataract, LASIK, cornea, and minimally invasive glaucoma surgeries for patients in the Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Twin Cities areas.

Posted on November 23, 2022

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