• Smoking & your eye health

    23rd September 2020

    The link between smoking & sight loss is as strong as the link between smoking & lung cancer. Yet, worryingly, awareness of the link between smoking and sight loss, amongst Britain’s 6.9 million smokers, is low. Toxic chemicals in tobacco smoke can damage the delicate surface and the internal structure of the eye.

    This can lead to an increased risk of many eye conditions including age-related macular degeneration (AMD) – the UK’s leading cause of sight loss; nuclear cataracts; thyroid eye disease; dry eye and poor colour vision.

    Any amount of smoking, even light, occasional or second-hand can affect your eye health.

    Double or quit

    Smokers are up to four times more likely to suffer AMD than non- smokers and are likely to suffer the condition earlier than non- smokers. Smokers are also likely to experience a more rapid progression of AMD and poorer treatment outcomes.

    Smoking increases your risk of developing cataracts as tobacco toxins cause oxidative damage to the lens proteins. The risk of nuclear cataracts (those that form in the centre of the lens) is three times greater in smokers.

    Sore, gritty eyes

    Smoking increases your risk of thyroid eye disease by up to eight times and can increase the severity of symptoms. Thyroid eye disease affects more than 400,000 people in the UK.

    Smoking cigarettes has also been found to increase the risk of dry eye syndrome and can exacerbate existing eye conditions.

    Colour vision

    Smokers who consume more than 20 cigarettes per day may suffer colour vision defects.

    For help to quit visit: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/ quit-smoking/nhs-stop-smoking- services-help-you-quit/