It’s universally known that cigarettes can be detrimental to just about every organ and system of the body—and that includes your eyes! But what about smoking’s trendy young cousin, vaping?

There is reason to believe that vaping causes some of the same physical damages that come from smoking regular cigarettes. Tobacco smoking is known to cause cancer, of course, but also contributes to diabetes and blood disorders that can damage eyes. While e-cigarettes and vape pens don’t burn tobacco, the liquid aerosolized by these devices does often contain highly addictive nicotine, plus harsh chemicals such as diacetyl and formaldehyde that are also found in cigarettes.

In fact, a study published in Frontiers in Physiology in 2017 suggests that vaping was to blame for oxidative stress that could lead to chronic disease, as well as eye inflammation. As recently as September 2019, a study published in Optometry and Vision Science compared 21 vapers and 21 non-vapers and found a prevalence of moderate to severe dry eye and lower tear film quality in the vaping group. 

According to the American Optometric Association, inflammation and oxidative stress can be harmful to eyes. While there is not yet adequate data to determine the full effects vaping can have on eye health, it is safe to presume that the substances vaping liquids have in common with cigarettes make them dangerous as well, even if to a lesser degree.

What could smoking do to my eyes?

Tobacco products have been around long enough for the medical community to have thoroughly studied their damaging effects. Smoking is known to greatly raise the risk of these conditions:

  • Dry eye syndrome. Smoking doubles the risk of irritating dry eye syndrome. The exhaled aerosols from vaping are believed to cause dry eyes as well.
  • Age-related macular degeneration (AMD). If you smoke, you are four times more likely than your non-smoking friends to develop this disease, which is one of the leading causes of blindness in older adults.
  • Glaucoma. Your risk of diabetes and high blood pressure are greater if you smoke. These devastating conditions put you at risk for glaucoma, which gradually causes eye damage, even blindness.
  • Diabetic retinopathy. Diabetes also contributes to diabetic retinopathy, which damages the blood vessels of the eyes, leading to blurry vision or even blindness.
  • Cataracts. Cataracts are a leading cause of blindness worldwide, and smokers are at higher risk of this clouding of the cornea.

In addition to raising the risk of certain eye diseases, smoking can worsen other existing conditions. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) suggests that smokers enroll in a smoking cessation program rather than start vaping in an attempt to kick the habit to reap the greatest health benefits of cessation.

Matossian Eye Associates performs a number of treatments for dry eye, visual disturbances and eye diseases that lead to blindness. Schedule an appointment with an eye doctor at your convenience by calling us at (800) 708-8800 or through our website at