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Smoking and Vision Loss

Quit to Protect Your Eyesight


Updated July 10, 2013

Of all of the harmful effects of cigarette smoking — such as increasing your risk of lung cancer, heart disease, and your longevity in general — did you know that smoking can harm your vision, too? It turns out that the same habit that can make you look 10 or 20 years older thanks to more wrinkles and skin discolorations can also interfere with how you see the rest of the world.

According to the US National Institutes of Health, smoking is a serous threat to your eyesight as you age, and can contribute to several conditions that may lead to vision loss and blindness. Eye problems usually attributed to getting older like cataracts and age-related macular degeneration can be worsened or accelerated by smoking cigarettes. Smoking boosts your risk of damage to the optic nerve, which also threatens your vision.

A cigarette habit early in life can still threaten your vision at an older age, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AOO), and the risk of future vision loss increases with the amount smoked.

Hope for those who quit: While avoiding smoking altogether is one of the best ways to protect your eyesight for the future, the AOO reports that your risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration can diminish almost to that of people who've never smoked once you quit. Take their advice to preserve your eyesight in later life, and do what you can to stop smoking today. You'll find a wealth of information on how to do it on our smoking cessation guide site.


Healthy Eyes. US National Institutes of Health Public Information Sheet. Accessed July 8, 2013.

Smoking and Eye Health. American Academy of Ophthalmology Public Information Sheet. Accessed July 8, 2013.

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