Smoking & Your Eyes

By specadm October 7 th, 2015

While it is common knowledge that smoking can be damaging to our health, many people are unaware that smokers, as compared with non-smokers, are at a greater risk of developing eye health problems. Early onset of Age-related macular degeneration and cataracts are one of the leading causes of blindness and visual impairment worldwide.

How does smoking affect your vision?

Tobacco smoke is made up of toxic chemicals that are potentially damaging to the eyes. The nicotine poisons the optic nerve and over time, severely impairs eyesight.

Age-related Macular Degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a disease affecting the macula, the central part of the retina at the back of the eye that enables vision for daily tasks such as reading, driving and face recognition. Smokers have four times the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration compared to non-smokers. While a cure is yet to be found for the disease, reducing or ceasing tobacco consumption is the most important preventable risk factor to date.


Cataracts is a condition where the lens of the eye becomes cloudy, causing blurred distance vision, sensitivity to glare, loss of contrast and difficulty seeing colours. While cataracts usually develop with age and can run in families, they can be accelerated by environmental factors such as smoking.

The only treatment for cataracts is surgical removal of the lens, however, ones risk can be substantially reduced if exposure to factors known to promote cataract formation – like smoking – are avoided.

For help to quit call the Quitline on 13 78 48