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#20Ways Smoking Increases Your Risk Of Sight Loss


Every day in the UK 100 people start to lose their sight, yet, over half of all sight loss is avoidable.[1]

Smoking is the BIGGEST modifiable risk factor of sight loss with smokers risking blindness even if they are not genetically pre-disposed to it.[2]

Any amount of smoking, even light or occasional smoking, can affect your eye health. So, don’t be blind to the risks, take a look at our list of #20Ways smoking damages your eyes and increases your risk of sight loss…


#1 Tobacco smoke causes biological changes in your eyes that can lead to poor eye health and loss of vision

#2 Cigarette smoke contains over 4,000 toxic chemicals that enter your eyes & increase your risk of sight loss by up to four times

#3 Tobacco chemicals damage the tiny blood vessels inside your eyes causing blockages and internal bleeding

#4 Tobacco chemicals interfere with the production of your tears – the tear film is important because it keeps the front of your eye healthy and helps your eyes focus clearly

#5 Smoking causes oxidative stress and damages your retina

#6 Tobacco reduces the amount of oxygen that reaches your macula. The macula is the part of the eye responsible for central, high-resolution vision

#7 Smoking is a key risk factor for Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD), the UK’s leading cause of blindness in the UK.

#8 Research published in British Medical Journal[3] suggests 1 in 5 cases of AMD are caused by tobacco consumption

#9 On average smokers develop AMD five years earlier than non-smokers

#10 Smoking is a major risk factor in the development of cataracts

#11 The risk of nuclear cataracts is three times greater in smokers than non-smokers

#12 Smoking is a significant risk factor for developing diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy is one of the top five causes of sight loss in the UK

#13 Smoking increases your risk of dry eye syndrome – the leading cause of eye irritation in over 65s

#14 Smoking is associated with the development of thyroid eye disease (TED). Smokers are up to 8 times more likely to suffer from this potentially sight threatening condition which affects up to 400,000 people in UK[4]

#15 Smokers have increased prevalence of colour vision deficiency

#16 Nicotine poisoning can make it difficult to clearly distinguish colours with a red or green hue.

#17 Smokers are twice as likely to suffer Uveitis – a painful inflammation of the middle layer of the eye ­– than non-smokers

#18 Smoking increases the risk of contact lens wearers suffering corneal ulcers. If left untreated corneal ulcers can lead to severe vision loss and even loss of the eye

#19 Smoking in pregnancy affects the development of your unborn baby and increases the risk of your child having a squint

#20 It’s not just your eyes that suffer. Secondhand smoke increases the risk of your loved-ones suffering sight loss


Now you know the facts – what are you waiting for? If you’re a smoker make No Smoking Day (9 March 2016) the day you quit for good.


Visit for FREE advice and local support to help you stop smoking – it could just save your sight



[1] RNIB

[2] Joint Associations of Diet, Lifestyle, and Genes with Age-Related Macular Degeneration, Kristin J. Meyers et al. Ophthalmology journal, Sept 2015

[3] British Medical Journal, Vol. 328, S. 537

[4] Estimate taken from National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)



Published 8 March 2016