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Will Smoking Lead To Earlier Development Of Cataracts?

Person Offering a Cigarette

Do you smoke? Are you worried that it might affect your eye health?

The impact smoking has on your body and the fact it causes premature death is preventable. Smoking can negatively impact every organ in your body, including your eyes.

We all know that smoking has been tied to heart disease and cancer, but we never think about our eyes. The truth is, smoking can cause a wide variety of vision and eye problems.

Keep reading to learn more about how smoking affects the eyes and if it leads to earlier development of cataracts!

What Are Some Of The Eye Conditions Tied To Smoking?

There are many eye conditions connected to smoking. Some of them include the following:

Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration occurs when you start to lose your central vision. This makes it more challenging to complete many everyday activities.

There are two types of AMD. The first is dry AMD. Dry AMD is the kind that most AMD starts out as. It affects approximately 80-90% of people with AMD.

It progresses slowly over time and does not have an approved treatment or cure. With dry AMD, small white or yellow deposits, called drusen, form on the retina. Drusen cause the degeneration to continue over time.

Wet macular degeneration only affects about 10-15% of people with AMD, but it accounts for about 90% of all cases of severe vision loss from AMD. With wet AMD, abnormal blood vessels under the retina begin growing toward the macula.

These abnormal blood vessels are not as strong as normal blood vessels. They tend to leak, break, and bleed, causing damage to the macula.

When this happens, the macula lifts up and pulls away from its base. This can lead to a rapid and severe loss of central vision.


Glaucoma is actually a group of eye diseases that damage your optic nerve. The optic nerve is a crucial part of how we are able to see.

It sends messages to your brain about what you are seeing. As the damage gets worse, you start to lose your vision, starting with your peripheral vision.

People may not realize that their vision is decreasing until they have lost a good part of it. This is why people do not realize they have glaucoma.

Smoking has been tied to increasing blood pressure, which can impact the pressure in the eye. Glaucoma occurs because intraocular levels in the eye become too high.

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is a common side effect from diabetes. This condition impacts the small blood vessels in the retina.

Your vision becomes affected by this condition when the blood vessels break, leak, or get clogged. For some, their eyes are affected by the creation of new blood vessels on the surface of the retina.

Smoking has been connected to developing diabetes. When someone is a diabetic and smokes, it also makes it more challenging to manage the condition as well.

Diabetics who smoke may also experience worsened complications.

Dry Eye

Dry eye syndrome is a condition that occurs when the eyes do not produce enough tears or they are low-quality. If you are a smoker, your eyes may become irritated because of the smoke.

Smoking with dry eye can cause irritation, burning sensation, and makes your eyes feel itchy and scratchy. Smokers have a higher chance of developing dry eye syndrome as well.


Cataracts occur when the natural lens in an individual’s eye becomes cloudy when it should be clear. As we age, cataracts are much more common.

Eventually, almost everyone will get a cataract if they live long enough. By age 80, more than half of our peers will have had cataracts or cataract surgery.

If you smoke, you have an increased risk of developing cataracts at a younger age.

Quit Smoking For Healthier Eyes

Smokers have an increased risk of developing eye diseases and conditions. The solution? Quit smoking.

Quitting smoking is the easiest way to have healthy eyes. Don’t forget to eat healthily, manage your cholesterol and blood pressure, and stay active. You should also get regular eye exams to stay ahead of any eye conditions.

Do you think that you are developing cataracts? Schedule a cataract screening at Omaha Eye & Laser Institute in Lincoln, NE today!

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Our Locations

Omaha Eye & Laser Institute
11606 Nicholas St.
Omaha NE 68154
Toll Free 800.766.8705Local 402.493.2020Fax 402.493.8987
Lincoln Eye & Laser Institute
755 Fallbrook Blvd. Suite 205
Lincoln, NE 68521
Toll Free 800.726.2647Local 402.483.4448Fax 402.483.4750