OasisEye Specialists

The impact of smoking on eyesight

Smoking your way to blindness

Tobacco smoking is the consumption of tobacco which can be found in lighting cigarettes, cigars and pipes. The practice of inhaling and exhaling such fumes poses an epidemic on its own, known most commonly to cause significant damage to the heart and lung. Ever thought how smoking could develop or exacerbate eye problems that are sight-threatening and potentially lead to blindness? Some of the eye diseases are such as:

Dry Eye Syndrome

Tobacco smoke irritates the conjunctival mucosa of the eye, decreases the quantity and quality of tears, thereby causing eye dryness. The insufficiency of quality tears causes smokers to experience itchiness, eye redness, foreign body sensation, swelling, and watery eyes.


It is the clouding of the crystalline lens of the eye. Studies have found smokers significantly increase their risk of cataract development up to 3 folds as the practice of smoking causes alteration in the cells and increases build-up of heavy metal residue in the crystalline lens.

Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

AMD is an acquired degenerative condition that impairs the central vision. Smoking causes constriction of the blood vessels and reduction in the level of lutein and zeaxanthin in the macula, which accelerates the rate of developing AMD by up to 4 times. It causes one to have difficulty in reading, seeing fine details, poor facial recognition, seeing wavy lines, and many more.


It is the inflammation of the central layer of the eye, known as the uvea. According to studies, smokers have an increased risk of 2.2 times to develop uveitis compared to non-smokers.


Glaucoma is an eye disorder which is indicated by compromised blood flow to the optic nerve, resulting in progressive loss of nerve tissue and gradual vision loss. Smoking contributes to this condition by increasing plaque formation in the blood vessels, which in turn reduces blood flow.

Diabetes Retinopathy

It is established that smokers with Type 1 diabetes mellitus (DM) have a higher risk of developing diabetic retinopathy. The act of smoking combined with the chronic hyperglycemic state damages the tiny blood vessels in the retina by reducing retinal blood flow, causing these vessels to break, leak or even block.

Not only do smokers significantly increase their risk for all these diseases, it affects the eyes of people around them via passive exposure (secondhand smoke) as well. The negative impact of smoking during pregnancy can be transmitted to newborns, contributing to higher risk of visual disorders.

Residents within Klang Valley in areas such as Cheras, Puchong, Shah Alam, Petaling Jaya, and Kepong can visit our low vision specialist, Ms Vinodhini Naidu to have their eyes examined at Nexus Bangsar South KL branch. Residents in Seremban 2, Senawang, Sendayan and Port Dickson can visit Dr Teh Wee Min at our Seremban branch. Residents in Johor Bahru, Skudai, Kulai, Iskandar Puteri, Senai, Tebrau, Batu Pahat, Kluang, Segamat can visit Dr Ling Kiet Phang or Dr Chan Choon Teng at our Johor Bahru branch. Residents in Perai, Bukit Mertajam, Butterworth, Penang island, Alor Setar, Kulim and Sungai Petani can visit Dato’ Dr Haslina at our Penang branch.